Multifamily Excellence Winners:
- Vendome Palms Apartments—Los Angeles Housing Department
The project is a complete gut-rehabilitation of an existing 43 unit masonry apartment building originally constructed in 1926. The rehabilitation included replacement of all major building systems that created 36 efficiency units, home to homeless individuals with mental disabilities earning at or below 30% AMI. The project construction was completed in December 2011 and on March 22, 2012 the Developer Community of Friends hosted a grand opening ceremony.
The Vendome Palms Apartments complex is located in the Silver Lake Neighborhood of Los Angeles approximately 4 miles north west of downtown. It is located on the corner of Sunset Boulevard adjacent uses include a mix of multi-family and single family housing and commercial uses along Sunset Boulevard. Within one block of the site along Sunset Boulevard residents can benefit from a pharmacy, laundromat, three restaurants, a convenience store, café, and a hair salon. Silver Lake is one of the most socioeconomically and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles it is known as an eclectic gathering of hipsters and the creative class. Numerous community meetings were held with the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council to gain community acceptance of this project.
Local Amenities include bus stops less than a block from the building where routes connect residents to job centers and services via Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. The Bellevue Community Center and park is located within a half mile of the site. The park has jogging trails, play equipment, baseball fields and basketball courts. The Community Center hosts a variety of classes and community meetings. Homeless Health Care LA (HHCLA) is located about a mile from the site. HHCLA provides residents a wide variety of mental health services, including medication prescriptions as well as group and individual therapy. HHCLA also provides on-site services at Vendome Palms. Also located within a mile of the site is Temple Community Hospital which residents can access for emergency medical services. The Silver Sun Pharmacy is located a block east of the site. Residents will be able to fill prescriptions with a very short walk. The Edendale Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library is located within one mile of the site along Sunset Boulevard and is easily bus accessible. Circle H Market is a full service neighborhood grocer located within a half mile of the site.
The Developer is A Community of Friends (ACOF). Founded in 1988, ACOF is a nonprofit affordable housing developer for people with special needs. Their mission is to end homelessness through the provision of quality permanent supportive housing for people with mental illness.
- Serviam Towers II—NYC Housing Development Corporation
Serviam Towers II is located in a historically poor area of the Northwestern Bronx which, according to the 2010 Census, shows local residents to be at or below 28 percent of the federal poverty levels. Ten percent of the residents are 62 years of age or older. The local average median annual income for this area is $35,062 with average monthly household costs at $994 and a rental vacancy rate of between three and four percent. The current economic crisis has left the most vulnerable of residents ever more reliant on government and social services. The Ursuline Bedford Park Community/Order of Ursuline Nuns, the non‐profit Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation along with the Enterprise Community Partners and JP Morgan Chase saw the mounting need, especially for seniors in this community, and joined forces with the City to make a difference. A combination of adaptive reuse of an existing building flanked by newly constructed wings, Serviam Towers II is built on land owned by the convent order and provides 160 affordable housing units for those 62 years or older with social services onsite, tie‐ins to local schools in the area to provide additional social services, a blending of income levels, all contained within an Enterprise Green Certified structure complete with market‐rate amenities. Occupants fall into HUD Area Median Income levels that range from 28% to 80% with annual incomes from $13,851 to $49,150. Most residents are at or below the Federal Poverty levels and require some form of government and social service assistance in order to survive day‐to‐day.
The Ursuline Sisters, wanting to carry on their mission of serving those in need, leased underused land in and around their Bedford Park convent to Fordham Bedford with the goal of creating this dynamic senior facility. Providing the land at below market rate dramatically reduced construction costs. The total development cost for Serviam Towers II was $47.3 million. Enterprise Community Partners was the syndicator of the 4% Low‐income Housing Tax Credits for this development which generated over $15 million in equity. To fund the development, the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) issued tax‐exempt bonds worth $27.7 million for construction financing and provided $8.8 million in subsidy from the Corporation’s reserves. JP Morgan Chase provided the letter of credit to secure HDC’s investment during the construction period. New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) provided $14.4 million in Mixed Income Repair Program (MIRP) funds, along with project‐based Section 8 vouchers to offset the cost of rent for tenants in 125 of the units. An additional $2 million City Capital Reso A funds came via the Bronx Borough President’s Office. Enterprise also provided grant funding for the Rose Architectural Fellow position that provided technical expertise in the design of the green components as well as the adaptive reuse and restoration of the existing Gregorian style convent.
The OCV Architectural team was the main design team but they worked in collaboration with the Rose Fellow and DesigNYC on the rehabilitation and expansion of the convent so that it became the heart of the 3‐building Serviam complex. Residents never have to leave the complex to get from one end to the other to visit friends and take part in daily activities and services.
The 23,000‐square‐feet of grounds around the complex were designed by top landscape design firm Robin Key Landscape Architects through collaboration with DesigNYC and Enterprise, working together to preserve the campus’ green space while encouraging interaction between the residents and students at the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula (AMSU), a thriving girls’ high school founded more than 150 years ago on the same site. The fact that Serviam shares a 10‐acre campus with AMSU has spawned a unique reciprocal relationship: students at volunteer at Serviam by assisting with various programs and social activities and Serviam residents volunteer at AMSU as hall monitors. The students hold concerts at Serviam and invite the residents to school events. AMSU’s environmental club also partners with seniors on gardening and assists the residents in their urban farming. The ground‐level landscaping includes a quarter‐mile walking path and that is surrounded by various plants, trees, shrubs, and an urban farm where tenants grow and share their crops with neighbors. It is here in this farm where the intergenerational garden is found: residents and students interact on a daily basis through gardening projects or just idle conversation.
The buildings are lit entirely by fluorescent, motion‐sensitive lighting. Heating and air conditioning costs are kept down by the green roof, which does not absorb as much heat as a traditional roof and provides better insulation. The green roof was also designed with a rain water harvesting system which offsets the harmful effects of storm water. The roof also includes terraces, vine‐covered trellises, bench nooks, and furnished alcoves set among trees and flowers. Each unit in the development has its own Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC) unit. Low‐energy argon‐filled windows prevent solar gain and insulate the building. An energy efficient boiler allows the heat to run without using much energy. Eco‐Spec paints were used for all interior work. Serviam Towers also has low‐flow fixtures such as Eco‐flush high efficiency toilets, low flow bathroom faucets, kitchen faucets and shower heads. The onsite laundry facilities also use high efficiency front load washing machines. Other green elements in this development include bamboo flooring, energy efficient elevators, and energy efficient apartment appliances. Overall, the units are safe and environmentally friendly, which enhances a resident’s sense of security while also reducing their utility expenses.
The residents at Serviam are offered many programming and social service activities through Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS), a subsidiary of FBHC. Through FBCS, the staff aids in the efforts to enhance the quality of life of its residents. A program coordinator works to bring a variety of services to Serviam residents; English as a Second Language (ESL) courses are offered in Korean and Spanish, and a citizenship and immigration consultant assists residents with related issues.
Other partnerships include: Volunteers from the organization New York Cares lead entertainment programs, including Casino Days, Dinner and a Movie, and Nintendo Wii tournaments. Neighborhood SHOPP provides Serviam with free arts and crafts supplies, as well free art classes. Seniors meet weekly to work on their arts and crafts projects and can attend a yearly event with other seniors in New York City to share their compositions and celebrate. Mount St. Vincent’s Undergraduate Nursing Program nearby holds classes at Serviam twice a week to discuss relevant health issues and teach healthy living techniques. Manhattan College’s Department of Exercise Science has a physical fitness partnership with Serviam. This partnership connects university students with Serviam tenants interested in one on one physical education. Local college students from Fordham University and Manhattan College volunteer to teach weekly Zumba and Yoga classes The world‐famous New York Botanical Garden provides gardening and composting workshops to those tenants using the green space and urban gardening areas at Serviam.
Besides the multitude of social services, residents are able to take advantage of such amenities as the onsite gym, media room, activity room, library, activity rooms for yoga and dance classes, community rooms, laundry rooms, and other spaces to gather and socialize. The development’s main goal was to enhance the quality of life of the low‐and moderate‐income senior residents. Many of these residents came from the immediate area because of an admission preference for local community board residents. The construction of Serviam Towers II also brought new residents to the area; providing a boost to the local economy and making good use of formerly vacant land. Additionally, the project draws in non‐residents, as community groups access the facilities for meetings.
Community support for the project was widespread. Enthusiastic support came from the Bronx Borough President’s Office, local Community Board 8, and City agencies as well as local parishes around the development.
Serviam Towers II has helped address the housing needs of seniors in the Northwestern Bronx. While the rents are comparable to other rent regulated buildings in the Bronx, residents still pay significantly less in rent than the market rate. Compared with other tax credit projects in the area (which often offer only studio units), Serviam Towers II tends to be more attractive to seniors because of the amenities available and the fact that all units are one‐bedroom. More than 5,000 seniors applied for housing at Serviam Towers II, including some seniors who lived in other local senior housing complexes. With only 158 available units, a lottery was used to choose residents, and once the resident’s applications were approved by NYC HDC, the units were immediately filled. The remaining 2,800 eligible applicants were placed on the waiting list for Serviam Towers II.
HOME Excellence Award Winner:
- Dumont Green—NYC Housing
For many years, East New York in Brooklyn endured more than its share of blight. The City’s affordable housing programs have made strides in addressing the community’s needs, but when Dumont Green, a new development that boasts the largest solar panel array of any residential building in New York State, was in its construction phase, the City’s triennial Housing Vacancy Survey for the East New York section of Brooklyn showed a population of 144,746, with a median household income for those that rent at $28,400 and 27.6% of the population at or below federal poverty levels with 21.3% of Households Receiving Public Assistance.
Dumont Green is a new eight‐story, 176‐unit affordable apartment building located in the East New York section of Brooklyn. It was built under NYC Housing Development Corporation’s (HDC) Low‐Income Affordable Marketplace Program (LAMP) and was developed by the Hudson Companies using Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, a comprehensive set of guidelines to encourage green building practices by developers of affordable housing. All of the units are affordable to families earning up to either 30% or 60% percent of Area Median Income (AMI), or up to $46,080 for a family of four. Twenty percent of the units are set aside for formerly homeless residents through the NY/NY III program. These 33 families are receiving social services either on site, or through a referral system. Another twenty percent are affordable to families earning up to 30% of AMI or up to $23,000 for a family of four. A variety of support services are also available to those families that do not fall into the formerly homeless group.
The HDC has provided $25.8 million in tax‐exempt bond financing for the first phase of construction of Dumont Green and $5.5 million direct subsidy for the permanent financing. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) provided $10.1 million in City Capital funds, $3.9 million in NYC Housing Trust Fund funding and $2.1 million in HUD HOME funds. Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided the letter of credit and was the construction loan servicer. Bank of America was also the tax credit investor, purchasing the project’s 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits through syndicator Richman, which generated $15.59 million in equity for the project. The NYC Acquisition Fund assisted in the purchasing of the land, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) gave a $225,000 solar rebate, and the Brooklyn Borough President provided $1 million. The total cost of the development was approximately $50.6 million.
The project is also a participant in Enterprise Green Communities and NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program (MPP) and is 26% more energy efficient than a comparable code‐compliant building – thus meriting the highest level of funding within the MPP program. All units have Energy Star appliances including dishwashers and air conditions to help residents limit their utility costs, and finishes have been selected to ensure durability and good indoor air quality.Part of completing the development involved alternative means of energy in the form of solar power. Dumont Green’s 80,500‐watt solar energy system provides the power to run laundry facilities and elevators, light common areas, and operate security systems. So far, the solar panels have reduced the building’s electricity budget by 42%.
Besides attempting to keep development units affordable, the developer also wanted to offer residents amenities on par with those in a market‐rate building. These amenities include a 6,000‐square‐foot enclosed and landscaped courtyard/playground, forty‐four parking spaces, a secured bike storage facility with capacity to store 88 bicycles, a large energy efficient laundry facility,cost‐saving dual‐flush toilets in every apartment, and community space with a kitchen. The development also features sustainable bathroom vanities manufactured by Brooklyn Woods, a local cabinetmaking business that helps unemployed and low‐income New Yorkers start careers in skilled woodworking and cabinet making. Set back from the sidewalk by 15 feet, Dumont Green is surrounded by new trees and native shrubs to give residents a more relaxed approach to the building. The brick and cast stone are contextual with the neighborhood and metal panels give it a modern feel. The Hudson Companies also directed the bearing walls to be perpendicular to the exterior wall, a cost effective way to allow for larger than average – often floor‐to‐ceiling – windows and more natural light in all rooms. The air conditioners are properly fitted into A/C sleeves to boost and protect the apartment’s energy efficiency.
Although the solar panels grab the most attention, the building is notable for its promotion of health in all facets of construction and design. One of the primary goals was to create new homes for low‐and very‐low income New Yorkers that were free of harsh chemicals and toxic products that have become standard in many buildings. To this end the apartments have oak floors, ceramic tile, no‐VOC paints and urea/formaldehyde‐free cabinetry. The hallways in Dumont Green are finished with marmoleum flooring, a sustainable, linseed‐based tile that produces no off‐gassing. The development’s south‐facing orientation is u‐shaped to maximize the visibility on the enclosed landscaped courtyard and playground
– thus assuring a safe play space for the children of the building – while bringing in maximum sunshine and warmth. Playground furniture was made from recycled soda bottles, and even the boulders that accent the landscaping were reclaimed from another development site’s excavation in the Bronx.
To prepare the foundation, the Hudson Companies used a unique technique known as vibro‐compaction to prepare the soil for construction during the early phase of the project. Opting for this method instead of driving piles into the ground (as is usually done in Brooklyn due to the soil hardness), the company saved the project in excess of $1.5 million and became the first residential project to utilize vibrocompaction in New York City. When applied to the budget, this saved the city almost $10,000 per unit in its underwriting, and helped Hudson achieve greater affordability while maintaining a new standard in affordable housing construction.
Community support for Dumont Green is widespread and includes local City Council, State Assembly representatives as well as the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office. Additionally, Dumont Green’s community impact as a job generator expanded into the labor force. Thirty percent of the subcontractors who built the building were from a radius of seven miles from the site. The Hudson Companies signed a Labor Agreement with Man Up, Inc., an East New York‐based non‐profit that referred skilled workers from the neighborhood to work on the site. With Man Up’s assistance, Dumont Green was built from the hands of almost 15% of workers from the area.
During the marketing period, the development received approximately 10,000 applications. In addition to providing quality and secure housing, for households earning 30% of AMI, the rents for these units were pegged at 28% AMI and capped at 30% of the household’s income. 30% AMI units are rare in New York City, but Dumont Green took advantage of a program through the Battery Park Housing Trust Fund to provide these units for people earning in this range. The efforts were not unnoticed as over 140 applications were received per 30% AMI apartment. Also, with more than 60% of the units occupied by residents of Brooklyn Community Board 5, it is clear that Dumont Green has added to the stabilization of East New York.
CAMBA, a nonprofit social service agency that works closely with the Hudson Companies, has offices on site and provides comprehensive social services for the formerly homeless tenants in the areas of health and mental health, needs of children, substance abuse counseling, financial management skills, schooling, employment, maintaining housing and integration into the larger community as a whole. Referral services are also available not only to the formerly homeless families but other families that reside at Dumont Green as well. CAMBA will also work to provide aftercare for clients who move on.
Redevelopment Excellence Award Winner
- Pecan Springs Commons—Austin Housing Finance
Pecan Springs Commons is located on Sweeney Circle, a cul‐de‐sac within a cul‐de‐sac in Northeast Austin. Residents at Pecans Springs Commons live in well‐maintained apartments that were recently remodeled using green building practices. There is a community garden, pocket parks, a computer lab and community center. Neighbors smile and wave as they pass each other. At first glance, Pecan Springs Commons doesn’t appear to be any different than any other well‐managed housing development in Austin. But look a little closer, and the difference is clear.Pecan Springs
Commons is a neighborhood redevelopment project headed by Green Doors, an affordable housing nonprofit that serves individuals and families who are struggling with or at‐risk of homelessness. The project is targeted toward working poor families and individuals whose household income does not exceed 50 percent median family income (MFI) or $26,036/year (for an individual). Residents also include veterans who have successfully exited homelessness and persons with disabilities, some of whom earn far below the required MFI, anywhere from 0‐30 percent.
Only four years ago, Sweeney Circle was steeped in drug traffic, prostitution, dereliction, danger, and despair. In fact, the Austin Police Department stated that Sweeney Circle was one of the top three high‐crime areas in the city. In 2008, there were 653 emergency 9‐1‐1 incidents reported on the Sweeney Circle block alone. That same year, Green Doors purchased eight properties on Sweeney Circle. As a result, in just two years, from 2008 to 2010, the number of 9‐1‐1 calls and crimes reported in Sweeney Circle decreased by 87percent (653 to 83) and 84 percent (189 to 30), respectively. In 2012, where drug dealers used to brandish guns, neighbors are gardening together. Rather than keeping them behind locked doors, parents feel comfortable letting their kids play outside again. Residents gather in the community room every Friday for movie night, and the computer library is utilized daily.
Today, Pecan Springs Commons stands out as a leading example of how to successfully eradicate urban blight and address the need for safe, quality, affordable housing in Central Texas, and across the nation. Through collaboration, perseverance, and innovation, Green Doors was able to transform a neighborhood – and the lives of the people who live there.