By Jeffrey Steele
LIHC Investment Group, Belveron Partners and Camber Property Group will rehabilitate and preserve 948 units of affordable housing at Stevenson Commons in the New York City borough of the Bronx. The initiative is moving forward through an agreement with the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
Stevenson Commons spans nine Mitchell-Lama buildings in the Soundview enclave of the Bronx and features studio, one, two, three and four-bedroom apartments. The buildings will benefit from $36 million in capital improvements provided by the partners. Those improvements will include a full elevator modernization, overhaul of mechanical systems, energy efficiency retrofits and restoration of the property’s central courtyard.
Upgrades to major building infrastructure will include roofs, facades and boilers. Other much-needed enhancements will include lobby renovations and a new security and access-control system.
Among the apartment renovations will be new kitchen appliances, light fixtures, sinks, cabinets and countertops, as well as new bathroom vanities, shower bodies, lavatories and tiling. The courtyard area will be transformed via a full redesign and restoration. Hardscape will be turned into green space, and the courtyard will be made accessible by residents with disabilities. Continuing under new ownership will be Stevenson Commons’ current on-site supermarket and 30,000-square-foot family health center.
“The project faced challenges both with respect to the complex financial structure and the nature of renovating a 40-year old occupied housing development,” Rick Gropper, principal of Camber Property Group, told MHN. “This was a true public-private partnership involving close coordination and collaboration with HUD and the local housing agencies. All sides came to the table with solutions including Project-Based Section 8 vouchers, creative debt financing strategies, and the investment of new equity to achieve the long-term preservation of Stevenson Commons.”
The owners used the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to enter into a new long-term Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contract. They also committed to remaining in the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program for 40 years.
At present, Mitchell-Lama housing is among the most at-risk housing in New York City. That’s because many owners have opted to convert their properties to market-rate housing as mortgages mature. Stevenson Commons serves a blend of middle-, low- and very-low-income families in the Bronx.
“This large and important transaction will safeguard Stevenson Commons as an affordable community in Soundview while improving and modernizing the property for current renters and their families,” said Andrew Gendron, principal of LIHC Investment Group. “Along with our partners, I want to thank HDC and HPD for providing such creative solutions to extend the affordability for a property of this size. This is a tremendous outcome which will allow longtime residents to remain a part of this community for decades to come.”