Mixed-use revitalization of vacant six-acre complex in Brooklyn boasts 1163 affordable homes in reused buildings + new public plaza

On October 4, 2021, The Fountains, a major $425 million transformative redevelopment project on the former Brooklyn Developmental Center site in East New York, Brooklyn, New York.

This revitalization of a six-acre complex includes 1,163 affordable homes across several buildings, nearly 22,000 square-feet of commercial space and a new public plaza. 192 apartments are set aside as supportive homes for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO of NYSERDA said, “Turning formerly underutilized sites into supportive community spaces that pair affordable housing with on-site services and amenities shows the impact that public-private partnerships can make under the State’s comprehensive transition to a carbon-neutral economy. The Fountains is providing some of our most vulnerable residents with healthy, safe, and energy efficient homes and NYSERDA is proud to have offered our support of this project.”

Originally opening in 1973 as a residential care and treatment center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the 35-acre Brooklyn Developmental Center was closed in 2015 due to a shift in the national housing policy toward integrated supportive housing.

The decommissioned state property, purchased through Empire State Development‘s competitive request for proposal process, was developed by the Arker Companies. The Arker Companies paid $10 million for the property, which was previously owned by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

ESD Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, “Empire State Development is proud to partner with other state agencies to revitalize communities with development opportunities – from residential housing to entrepreneurial commercial ventures. Repurposing this underutilized state facility to better suit the current needs of this community will catalyze local development, provide critical services and neighborhood benefits, and help Brooklyn families achieve economic security and stability.

Built over several phases, The Fountains complex includes 1,163 apartments across six residential buildings. Most apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income with 85 homes for households earning up to 100 percent of the AMI. There are 200 apartments reserved for adults 62 or older.

Alex Arker, Principal at The Arker Companies, said, “This is an incredible moment for our affordable housing community. We are proud to work alongside our partners, ESD, HCR, and HPD, to open the Fountains and provide a safe, stable home for thousands of New Yorkers. The Fountains has revitalized this site with almost 1,200 apartments, supportive services, a public plaza and more. As we are still trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an honor to do our part in helping New Yorkers who need it most.”

192 homes throughout the complex are reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who will have access to on-site supportive services provided by the Block Institute. Funding for services and rental subsidies are being provided by the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Additionally, OPWDD will lease office space on the complex.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The Fountains is the consummate example of our vision for an affordable housing development that leads to greater opportunity, equality and sustainability. With nearly 1,200 apartments, this $425 million development was thoughtfully designed to forge a healthy, diverse and accessible community for people of all ages, abilities and means. It is a testament to Sol Arker’s vision and perseverance that this transformative project was brought to fruition and his passion for building beautiful affordable homes is present in every detail. We are grateful to the Arker Companies and our many partners in state and local government for making our shared vision a reality.

The complex also includes Schroeder’s Walk, a new one-acre public plaza that extends Schroeder’s Avenue for pedestrians. The Fountains also features 21,700 square-feet of new ground floor commercial space and off-street parking.

The six completed buildings include:

  • A six-story building at 11629 Seaview Avenue with 65 affordable apartments. 17 units are reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. 10 apartments are fully accessible and adaptable for residents with mobility, hearing or vision impairments.
  • A nine-story building at 911 Erskine Street with 267 affordable apartments. 67 apartments are reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • A seven-story building at 10 Schroeder’s Walk with 200 apartments for residents 62 and older and 11,100 square-feet of commercial space on the ground floor. 60 of the apartments are reserved for homeless seniors.
  • A nine-story building at 702 Vandalia Avenue, with 65 affordable apartments. 13 homes are reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. 10 apartments are fully accessible and adaptable for residents with mobility, hearing or vision impairments.
  • A nine-story building at 881 Erksine Street with 144 affordable apartments. Twenty-nine homes are reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The ground floor has 10,600 square-feet of commercial space.
  • A nine-story building at 894 Fountain Avenue with 422 affordable apartments. There are 85 apartments for households earning up to 100 percent of the AMI. Sixty-six homes are reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “The Fountains development will provide stable, deeply affordable housing to people who need it most. I have been proud to support this project as borough president, emphasizing the need to prioritize those at risk of displacement in the East New York and Brownsville areas. Providing on-site support services for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities is also an important step toward giving people with disabilities stable, nurturing environments, and I urge other developments to follow this model to ensure we are meeting the needs of this vulnerable population. I thank our partners at the City and State level for making this necessary project a reality.

All six buildings were constructed to meet Enterprise Green Community standards and include energy efficient features such as ENERGY STAR labeled appliances, heating and cooling systems, and lighting.

Scott Barkin, CEO of Block Institute said, “For almost 60 years Block Institute has been dedicated to developing programs and services to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the Brooklyn Community. The Fountains Seaview Project represents Block Institute’s first participation in the development and support of affordable housing projects in NYC. Our work is mission driven, meaningful and immensely rewarding. As we see this project coming to completion and witness individuals’ dreams realized, we look forward to future opportunities to partner with Arker and continue this work.

The Fountains is located close to public transportation, Shirley Chisholm State Park, bike trails and community resources such as grocery stores, parks, schools and other retail establishments.

HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said, “More than a thousand affordable homes have come online as a part of the Fountains development at a time when every affordable home counts. As we push for more affordable housing, it’s the projects like these, primarily serving low-income households and people in need of supportive care, that are becoming more important than ever. I commend our partners at Arker Companies, New York Empire State Development, and New York Homes and Community Renewal Development for bringing this development to life.”

State financing for The Fountains includes over $216 million in resources from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Additional support was provided by OPWDD, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said, “With nearly one third of these 1,163 new homes being set aside for adults 62+ (200 units) and adults living with intellectual or developmental disabilities (192 units), this project is very responsive to the dire local need for permanent, safe and affordable housing, particularly for vulnerable New Yorkers. I am proud to stand here with this fine group of public-private partners, and look forward to working with you to bring more affordable units to the 19th Senate District.

The Fountains complements the state’s $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative which is targeting and investing in eight integrated areas, from health care to housing, establishing a new standard for addressing chronic economic and racial disparities in Brooklyn’s high-need communities.

The Fountains are the embodiment of our commitment to provide equal opportunity for each and every New Yorker, and this complex goes above and beyond to provide quality, affordability, and access to the resources needed to live healthy and successful lives,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said. “This mixed-use development provides housing, services, and amenities that will reenergize the community and build a brighter future for all, but especially for our most vulnerable residents.

The Vital Brooklyn initiative will create 4,000 affordable homes in Central Brooklyn’s neighborhoods. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested nearly $2.5 billion in Brooklyn that has created or preserved nearly 12,000 affordable homes.

Image courtesy of Dattner Architects and SCAPE.

See The Arker Companies website.

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