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Front Page March 7, 2013  RSS feed

Hunters Pt. South Finally Underway

Apt. Towers To Rise On L.I.C. Site


Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined real estate executives and local civic leaders—including City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Community Board 2 Chairperson Joseph Conley—in breaking ground on the new Hunters Point South affordable housing development in Long Island City on Monday, Mar. 4. 
(photo: Nicholas Biondo) Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined real estate executives and local civic leaders—including City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Community Board 2 Chairperson Joseph Conley—in breaking ground on the new Hunters Point South affordable housing development in Long Island City on Monday, Mar. 4. (photo: Nicholas Biondo) Ground was broken on the first two residential buildings of the Hunters Point South development on the Long Island City waterfront at a ceremony Monday, Mar. 4, attended by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and numerous local and state officials.

When complete, the multiphase Hunters Point South project will be largest new affordable housing complex to be built in New York City since the 1970s, according to the Mayor’s office. This first phase includes the first two residential buildings with 925 permanently affordable apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of new retail space, key infrastructure installations, a new five-acre waterfront park, and a new 1,100-seat school.

Bloomberg also announced that the city will issue a request for proposals for the second phase of the Hunters Point South development next month. The city collaborated with the state to help finance the residential buildings, which—under the direction of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo—allocated $185 million of tax-exempt bonds for the project. The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) issued $236 million in tax exempt bonds, and the HPD provided $68 million in subsidy.

Hunters Point South is regarded as the largest affordable housing development in the Bloomberg administration’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of the 2014 fiscal year. To date, the NHMP has funded the creation or preservation of more than 143,300 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs. For every dollar invested by the city, the plan has reportedly leveraged $3.43 in additional funding for a total commitment of more than $21 billion.

Joining Bloomberg at the ceremony were Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua, State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns, Phipps Houses Group President and CEO Adam Weinstein, Related Companies President Bruce A. Beal Jr., and Monadnock Construction President Nick Lembo.

Also taking part in the festivities were Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens Community Board 2 Chair Joseph Conley, New York City Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Kyle E. Kimball, Managing Director of Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital Alan Wiener, Bank of America Community Development Banking Executive for the Northeast Region Todd Gomez, and Co-Head of Citi Community Capital Andrew Ditton.

“After years of planning and partnership, we’re breaking ground on the first large-scale middle-class development to be built in our city in more than three and a half decades,” said Bloomberg. “In just a few years, Hunters Point South will have all the makings of a great community—affordable homes, new transportation links, beautiful parks with sweeping views, and a brand-new school.”

“The city’s efforts to develop and preserve affordable housing range from providing downpayment assistance to aspiring homeowners to building developments on the scale of Hunters Point South. Whether small or large, each housing opportunity makes a difference and changes lives,” added Wambua. “For years we recognized the promise that development of this site could bring, and I believe that with this plan we are realizing that potential. From the day we issued the RFP, through the selection of the development team, and closing of the transaction this past Feb. 14, we have moved with extraordinary swiftness and deliberate purpose. We are fortunate to have selected partners who share our vision and who are working with us to see a new neighborhood, with 925 permanently affordable apartments, grow from the ground up. Our fellow New Yorkers will reap the rewards for many years to come.”

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the state, as part of its commitment to maintaining its role as a progressive leader, is deeply committed to the development of affordable housing for New Yorkers,” Towns said. “Here in Hunters Point, more than 1,000 individuals and families will have a safe affordable home, because the state worked with the city to make bond financing available. This cooperation is how government works best, when our bottom line is helping people live better lives.”

Affordable housing

All of the 925 apartments in the two mixed-use residential buildings located on sites A and B will be permanently targeted to low-, moderateand middle-income families. The RFP originally set a minimum of 60 percent of the units to be income-restricted. During the course of negotiating the financing for the project, the city and development team were able to come to an agreement that made it feasible for 100 percent of the units to be permanently affordable for this phase. It is anticipated that the buildings will be ready for occupancy in 2014 with construction fully completed in 2015.

Site A, a 37-story building to be located at 1-50 50th Ave., will be comprised of 619 permanently affordable units, approximately 13,739 square feet of retail space, and a parking garage with approximately 220 spaces. There will be 165 studio, 205 one-bedroom, 214 two-bedroom, and 35 three-bedroom units.

Site B, a 32-story building located at 1-55 Borden Ave. will be comprised of 306 permanently affordable units and approximately 3,000 square feet of retail space. There will be 100 studio, 82 one-bedroom, 101 twobedroom and 23 three-bedroom units.

Designed by SHoP Architects, with Ismael Leyva Architects, the team’s plan for the two residential mixed-use buildings in Phase I feature classic tripartite building composition in a modern, façade design. As with all new affordable housing construction and substantial renovation projects funded by the city, Phase I must adhere to the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, the only national green building criteria designed for affordable housing. It is expected that this development will achieve a LEED Silver rating when complete.

Sites A and B will have a variety of tenant amenities including public terraces, a fitness center, children’s play room, tech center, bike storage and party rooms in each building. Site A will also have a community garden. All of the two- and three-bedroom units in each building will contain in-unit washers and dryers.

At Site A, 21 units will be targeted to low-income households with an annual income of up to 40 percent of the area median income (AMI) or $33,200 for a family of four and 103 units will be targeted to low-income households with an annual income of up to 50 percent of AMI or $41,500 for a family of four, 288 units will be targeted to moderate-income households earning up to a maximum of 165 percent of AMI or $148,010 for a family of four, and 206 units will be targeted to middle-income households earning up to 230 percent of AMI or $190,900 for a family of four, with one unit reserved for the superintendent.

At Site B, 10 units will be targeted to low-income households with an annual income of up to 40 percent of the area median income (AMI), and 52 units will be targeted to low-income households with an annual income of up to 50 percent of AMI, 142 units will be targeted to moderate-income households earning up to a maximum of 165 percent of AMI, and 102 units will be targeted to middle income households earning up to 230 percent of AMI.

Changes due to Sandy

Like much of New York City’s coastline, the Hunters Point South waterfront was affected during Hurricane Sandy. The Phase I project plans include resiliency measures to ensure that should another severe weather event hit the Queens waterfront, the impact will be mitigated.

These measures include:

• Building mechanical systems are located on the second floor or higher. Both the condensing boilers and cogeneration plants are on the fourth floor on Site A and second floor on Site B, and are powered by natural gas. One of the two cogeneration plants also serves as a back-up generator.

• Emergency generators are located on the roof.

• All exterior doors in the flood plain are designed to receive flood gates.

• The building frontage located in the floodplain has a concrete base up to the flood plain elevation that is designed to act as a flood wall.

A city within the city

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is in the process of constructing the infrastructure and roadways that will support the first phase of residential development. Work includes the installation of storm and sanitary sewers and water mains and is approximately 95 percent complete; works on curbs, roadways, and sidewalks are approximately 5 percent complete; the installation of street lighting, traffic signals and signs and planting of street trees will take place this spring.

The NYCEDC is also constructing a five-acre waterfront park that borders the residential parcels and the school. The park is approximately 70 percent complete and includes a playground, basketball court, dog run, train track “rail garden,” and large “oval” that will serve as a place for active recreation and passive uses.

This phase also includes work by the New York City School Construction Authority on a new, 1,100-seat intermediate/high school, 404-Q, which is approximately 70 percent complete and slated to open in September for the 2013-2014 school year.

How they’re paying for it

The total development cost for the two residential buildings in Phase I of Hunters Point South is approximately $332 million, with HDC issuing $236 million in tax exempt bonds, HPD providing $68 million in subsidy, the developer contributing over $27 million of equity, and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) providing grants of approximately $1.2 million during construction for green elements.

Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America have issued a Letter of Credit to enhance the HDC senior loan of more than $163.2 million for Site A during construction. Wells Fargo Community Lending as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit investor will contribute approximately $19.6 million for Site A and $8.8 million for Site B to pay down a portion of the construction financing. Citibank will purchase the bonds and provide credit enhancement for the HDC senior loan of $72.8 million for Site B during construction.

New York State has provided an allocation of up to $185 million of tax-exempt private activity bond volume cap to allow the project to benefit from as-of-right four percent federal low-income tax credits. The HDC will issue the balance as recycled bonds.

The future

Bloomberg also announced that next month the city will be issuing the RFP for Site C, the block on the south side of Borden Avenue, an 110,000 square-foot lot, which will be the second phase of the Hunter’s Point South development. The Phase II RFP will call for approximately 1,000 units of housing with a minimum of 50-60 percent of the units designated as permanently affordable and approximately 28,000 squarefeet of community/commercial space. The RFP guidelines will also include requirements for storm and flood mitigation.

When complete, Hunters Point South will be the largest affordable housing development built in New York City since the early 1970s when Co-op City and Starrett City were completed. It will include approximately 5,000 new units of housing, more than 11 acres of landscaped waterfront parkland, new retail shops, community facility space, and the new 1,100-seat school.