CLOTH and Alembic Break Ground on 2142 Amsterdam

2012-10 2142 AmsterdamOn October 10, southern Washington Heights residents joined City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and State Assemblyman Guillermo Linares to celebrate the start of construction on 2142 Amsterdam Avenue, a $12-million joint development of Alembic Community Development and our longtime collaborator, Community League of the Heights (CLOTH) that will provide 44 units of affordable and supportive housing.

“Much like the Dorothy McGowan Apartments, CLOTH’s earlier development on West 159th Street, 2142 Amsterdam fills a critical community need, the need to provide safe and decent housing for all our neighbors, including those who may need intensive on-site services to help them succeed,” CLOTH Executive Director Yvonne Stennett said.

“Alembic is delighted to be able to work with our long-time partner CLOTH on a housing development that will continue the revitalization and growth of southern Washington Heights, and provide much needed   affordable and supportive housing,” added Alembic Principal Heidie Joo Burwell.

When complete, 2142 Amsterdam will comprise 26 studio apartments for eligible participants in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s NY/NY III Program, 17 studio apartments for low-income community residents and one on-site resident manager’s apartment. Services for the Underserved, an experienced property manager and service organization, will provide on-site social services and property management for the building.

Development financing includes funding through the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Supportive Housing Loan Program and Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity syndicated by Richman Housing Resources. A portion of the site was donated to the project by Columbia University for the purposes of affordable housing.  Predevelopment support came from the Harlem Community Development Corporation, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and Richman.  The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is providing funds for social service assistance, and rental assistance is provided by project-based Section 8 vouchers.

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Landscape Work Begins on Indigenous Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans

Work began in September 2012 on the landscape portion of the first phase of the Donald Harrison, Sr., Cultural Arts Museum in the Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans.  A joint effort of Alembic Community Development, the Tulane City Center, and the Guardians Institute, a Mardi Gras Indian and cultural organization, the Museum will create a dedicated and secure space for Guardians Institute’s signature programs, cultural arts performances,  as well as host local artist exhibitions and educational events for youth.

2012-10 Guardians

Work on the Museum is proceeding in two phases.  Phase I, which the City Center began in the summer of 2011, comprises the development of outdoor performance, viewing and recreational areas, including an outdoor pavilion and performance stage.  Phase II will entail the development of a permanent building to house programs and securely display and store cultural arts pieces and artifacts.  

Alembic has worked on capacity-building efforts and project management with the Guardians Institute since 2008, and helped the Institute secure a grant from the City Center which  funded the design-build project that included a collaborative site planning and design process and culminated in the construction of the pavilion.  The Guardians Institute and Alembic subsequently secured a grant from the Wisner Foundation to fund an extensive hard- and soft-scape plan for the site that will help transform the property into a true community asset.

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Providence House in The New York Times

Providence House, a partner to Alembic on two projects currently in construction, is the subject of an editorial article in the New York Times on September 18th, 2012. The article champions the efforts of Providence House, a Catholic social service organization run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, to help women coming out of the criminal justice system. The article refers in particular to Kosciuszko Street (the D’Addario Residence) and Lincoln Road, two upcoming permanent housing developments for women ex-offenders. Please click the link below to read the full article.

Speaking the Truth to the Vatican – The New York Times

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Work Begins on 552 Academy Street

On June 22, Washington Heights residents joined with community leaders, long-time Alembic Community Development partner Community League of the Heights (CLOTH), elected representatives and City officials to celebrate the start of the much-anticipated rehabilitation of 552 Academy Street, the derelict Washington Heights property that the City of New York condemned last year.

“The building had been chosen by the City to be evacuated because it was in such despair. The tenants have been living under deplorable conditions for quite some time due to landlord neglect, and it was unsafe for them to be living in the building,” said CLOTH Executive Director Yvonne Stennett as quoted in Multi-Housing News. “With the resources of our elected officials and working with the City, we were able to galvanize the momentum to fix this building.”

552 Academy Street groundbreaking

552 Academy Street groundbreaking ceremony

CLOTH is rehabilitating 552 Academy Street through a joint venture with Alembic. The building, located at 552-562 Academy Street, had deteriorated significantly over the last 10 years, becoming a center for drug and weapons trafficking and endangering the lives of the residents, many of whom are elderly. In February 2011, 31 families—living without gas, water, and heat—were forced to evacuate. The renovations will enable the families to return to improved apartments at the existing affordable rents that are based on their income.

Financing for the $21.5-million gut rehabilitation includes $16.9 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity from Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Home Funds, Resolution “A” loans from City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, and a deferred developer’s fee. Capital One also provided a $15 million construction loan.

“Alembic Community Development is pleased to once again partner with CLOTH in order to bring our shared vision of a dynamic and thriving Washington Heights community to fruition,” Alembic Principal Arlo Chase said. “Our successful collaboration with CLOTH continues our mission to support community-based and community-led efforts to rebuild underserved neighborhoods.”

The renovated 552 Academy Street will include previously unavailable amenities, including an elevator and a community room. It also will be renovated according to the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. 552 Academy Street will target families with incomes at or below 60% of the area median income.

“The neighborhood was once looked at in a very negative light, but that has turned around drastically,” Stennett told Multi-Housing News. “We are seeing a real change in the neighborhood. Lots of new businesses are going up, and the rehabilitation of 552 Academy is adding significantly to the positive perception of the neighborhood.”

See also: Press release in Multi-Housing News

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Community Celebrates Cedar Avenue Apartments

Bronx, NY – Morris Heights residents joined local and New York State officials today for a ribbon-cutting celebrating the grand opening of Cedar Avenue Apartments, a unique mixed-tenancy development providing both affordable and service-enriched housing for individuals and families earning less than 60% of area median income and for individuals with histories of chronic mental illness.

“This is a fantastic accomplishment,” said Michael Hogan, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). “Community Access and Alembic Community Development deserve great credit for crafting a development approach that allows integrating and serving diverse populations in such a beautiful space. OMH is proud to be a partner in this effort.”

Cedar Avenue Apartments Ribbon Cutting

In addition to the integrated housing model pioneered by Community Access, the lead sponsor, more than 20 years ago, Cedar Avenue Apartments features the first-ever collaboration between OMH and the New York State Housing Finance Agency (part of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR)). Alembic Community Development, Community Access’ development partner, played a key role in finalizing the complex financing structure supporting the development.

“Cedar Avenue Apartments, with its many and diverse financing streams, is a model for future supportive housing development across New York State,” HCR Commissioner/ CEO Darryl Towns said. “Governor Andrew Cuomo has spoken of the need for cooperative relationships to break down silos and advance us to a new New York. I congratulate Community Access and Alembic for doing just that, and especially for persevering when it looked like the financial crisis might scuttle this deal. This is a great day for this community.”

“Our experience has proven that a mixed housing model promotes social integration, reduces the stigma attached to ‘special needs’ housing, and promotes overall community development,” Community Access CEO Steve Coe said. “Low turnover rates and high tenant satisfaction speaks volumes about the success of this model.”

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Cedar Avenue Award

At its 20th anniversary event on October 18th, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), the country’s leading supporter of permanent supportive housing, recognized Alembic Community Development’s Cedar Avenue project as one of three Champion Supportive Housing Projects of the past 20 years, an honor that Alembic shared with our nonprofit partner, Community Access. The two other Champion projects were Direct Access to Housing in San Francisco and Anishinabe Wakiagun (The People’s Home) in Minneapolis.

Cedar Avenue Award Ceremony

Maggi Knox and Steve Coe(left) from Community Access and Heidie Joo Burwell (third from left) and Michael McCarthy (right) from Alembic Community Development accept their awards for Cedar Avenue. Presenting the award are Diane Louard-Michel (third from right) and Deborah DeSantis (second from right) from The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).

Cedar Avenue is a $37 million, 105-unit, mixed supportive and affordable housing project in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. CSH lauded Cedar Avenue as a “pioneering project…a first-time funding collaboration among the State Office of Mental Health, State housing finance agencies and private investment in a mixed-tenancy project.” CSH also acknowledged Cedar Avenue as a “beautiful, state-of-the art building.” In addition to Community Access, our partners included architect Peter L. Woll, builder HLS Builders Corp and Richman Housing Resources LLC.

Cedar Avenue will provide permanent housing with on-site case management and support services for 55 formerly homeless individuals with chronic mental illness, five low-income individuals and 45 low-income families.

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Bethel Estates Phase 1 Completion

Alembic Community Development and its development partner, Back Bay Mission, completed the successful transfer of the Bethel Estates project, a 32-unit affordable housing development in Pass Christian, Mississippi, to Chartre Consulting, a Mississippi-based real estate development company, in September 2011. Originally conceived in 2008 as an affordable homeownership project, Bethel Estates encountered the extraordinary national decline in new homes sales, a circumstance that hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast with particular severity.

Bethel Estates

One of 32 new affordable rental homes in Bethel Estates in Pass Christian, Mississippi

Alembic and Back Bay Mission completed $1.4 million in planning, zoning and infrastructure work for Bethel Estates, including new roads, utilities, sewer and storm drainage systems and the construction of two model homes. Chartre will utilize these improvements to complete the initiative as a rental project affordable to families earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The transfer will allow Chartre to preserve and deploy an allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity. “We look forward to Chartre Consulting continuing to implement the vision for Bethel Estates that we created with our partners,” said Rev. Shari Prestemon, Executive Director of Back Bay Mission. “We are very proud of the work that we have accomplished and thankful to the City of Pass Christian for welcoming us and working together in partnership. The Pass is a wonderful community and we look forward to seeing it continue to develop.”

This new phase of Bethel Estates has the support of the City of Pass Christian and the Mississippi Development Authority. It ensures the creation of affordable housing at Bethel Estates, leverages the work of Alembic and Back Bay Mission and successfully directs Federal and State resources for affordable housing to underserved communities on the Gulf Coast.

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Kosciuszko Street Groundbreaking

Kosciuszko Street Groundbreaking

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Kosciuszko Street Apartments

On June 29th, Alembic Community Development and its development partner, Providence House, broke ground on a 46-unit supportive housing project on Kosciuszko Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn for women coming out of the criminal justice system and for other low-income community residents. The project, the D’Addario Residence, has been a long time coming. Sister Janet Kinney, the Executive Director of Providence House, and Alembic began work on the project in 2005. Despite entrenched community opposition, the project finally received the support of the local community board and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who joined Providence House, Alembic, other elected officials and community leaders and residents to celebrate the start of construction on the $12.7-million development project. Financing includes Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity and New York City capital funding.

The project, a new construction, six-story building will have 17 apartments set aside for low-income residents, with a priority given to residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant; the remaining units will house homeless ex-offenders and their families. All of the units will be available to households at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), equal to a maximum annual household income of $47,520 for a family of four. The development will also include 1,200 square feet of community space featuring a meeting room, exercise room and a learning center.

Providence House will provide on-site case management and life services to each resident as well as referrals to a spectrum of services in the community including employment and training programs, health and mental health services and childcare/after school programs. Providence House will connect tenants to recreational activities both inside and outside the building.

“I am so excited about this development,” Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said. “Not only will homeless women and families have a beautiful place to live, but they also will have a full set of services to help them succeed. Moreover, this development will transform a vacant and blighted lot into a community beacon. Providence House is to be congratulated for this, its first permanent supportive housing facility.”

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