Harlem Low Income Housing Gets Big Green Retrofit

Ten aging apartment buildings in Harlem, New York, with 198 units of affordable housing, are now green, thanks to a model private-public partnership and HUD’s Green Retrofit Program.

The $50.9 million project is being touted as a national model for private-public investments that preserve and green affordable housing.

The project is a collaborative effort between national green real estate developer Jonathan Rose Companies and leading city and federal housing agencies. 

Jonathan Rose says it acquired the 202,500 square foot property to preserve 100% affordable Section 8 housing, while creating an apartment community that is more energy efficient and healthier for residents earning less than 60% of the area median income.

"Funding for development of new affordable rental housing is insufficient to meet America’s needs. The preservation of our existing affordable housing stock is essential. Many of these buildings are also in need of renovation. The solution is to have responsible owners purchase the existing stock as it comes up for sale, extend the period of committed affordability, and make green capital and operating improvements," says Jonathan Rose, President. 

"Carrying out these goals on a large scale requires committed, innovative, responsive financiers. The preservation and greening of the West 135th Street Apartments could not have been accomplished without our partners at HUD, HPD, HDC, Enterprise and the Bank of New York," he says.

Public Support Critical

The project is also the first in the nation to benefit from HUD’s $250 million Green Retrofit Program, which was created by the 2009 stimulus bill, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. 

And it’s part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan. Launched in 2003, the $8.4 billion plan enables the creation or preservation of 165,000 affordable apartments by the end of fiscal year 2014.

125,000 units have been created or preserved to date through public and private funding. The program’s guidelines include smart design and site practices, energy efficiency and environmentally preferable products to encourage sustainability in all developments.

In December 2008, Jonathan Rose Companies acquired the buildings through its Rose Smart Growth Investment Fund, which is focused on strategic green repositioning of existing buildings. 

The company received $22.5 million from the New York City Acquisition Fund, which offers acquisition and pre-development loans to developers committed to creating and preserving affordable housing. 

The Fund is a partnership between NYC, Enterprise, major foundations and NYC public and private investment groups. Enterprise Community Partners, a leading provider of development capital for affordable housing, originated the program.  

In addition to $3.6 million from HUD, the project benefited from $24.1 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by the NYC Housing Development Corporation, and received $5.9 million from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Enterprise, through its Green Communities program, provided $4.8 million of tax credit equity to the project.

Green Renovation Features

The buildings were renovated using Enterprise Green Communities criteria, the first national green building criteria designed for affordable housing.

They are now Enterprise Green Communities- and LEED-certified.

NYC’s New Housing Marketplace Plan requires developers that receive City funding to attain Enterprise Green Communities Certification (for new and renovated buildings). 

The green retrofit focused on upgrades for apartments and common areas that enhance residents’ health and safety, address needed repairs and maintenance issues, promote energy efficiency and better air quality, and increase quality of life. 

Tenants are expected to save about 25% on their energy bills.

Features include:

  • 10 high efficiency boilers replaced 32 inefficient, old models; 
  • the fire alarm system is now up to code;
  • new interior vestibule and insulated glass entry doors;
  • new lobby finishes including recycled content ceramic flooring;
  • significant repairs to exterior brick and stucco;
  • LED light fixtures in corridors;
  • increased roof insulation;
  • rooftop solar PV panels;
  • compact fluorescent fixtures and bulbs;
  • Energy Star appliances;
  • new linoleum and FSC wood flooring;
  • ceiling fans;
  • non-formaldehyde cabinets and PLAM countertops;
  • double-pane argon-filled low emissivity (low-e) windows;
  • aerators and new low-flow showerheads;
  • non-toxic paints, adhesives and sealants throughout;
  • thermostatic radiator valves allow residents to control the heat in their apartments.

The green emphasis will continue during ongoing operations and maintenance.

Earlier, Enterprise and Jonathan Rose collaborated on construction of the David and Joyce Dinkins Gardens, a green building with 85 units of affordable housing also located in Harlem. The project was completed in 2008.

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Comments on “Harlem Low Income Housing Gets Big Green Retrofit”


    Dattner Architects was proud to work with Jonathan Rose Companies and Enterprise on this important green retrofit. We also worked together on the David and Joyce Dinkins Gardens project.


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