Before its convenyance to the Community League of the Heights, 552 Academy Street, a 72-unit apartment building in the Inwood neighborhood of upper Manhattan, had endured over a decade of neglect and deferred maintenance; inadequate or no heat, electricity or hot water; and rampant drug and weapons trafficking. In 2010, the Fire Department issued an emergency vacate order, forcing building residents, many of them elderly, into temporary housing far from home. In partnership with the Community League of the Heights (CLOTH), one of the city’s oldest community development organizations, we purchased the property, assembled development financing and oversaw a full gut rehabilitation of the property. The scope of work completely rebuilt a collapsing quadrant of the building, installed an elevator into the former six-floor walk-up structure and created a new green roof and garden with views across northern Manhattan to the Hudson River palisades.
The total project cost was $21 million. Project financing included 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity and substantial capital support from the City of New York. Other project partners included Capital One Bank, JP Morgan Chase and Enterprise Community Partners. Oaklander, Coogan & Vitto Architects designed the new interior layouts, and we retained Mega Contracting to complete the construction. We worked to ensure that all of the displaced residents were able to return home to new, upgraded apartments with all new building systems in place. Residents, many of them living in rent stabilized or controlled apartments, kept their rents at their previous levels.