New York–The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the West 135th Street Apartments, a 10-building complex in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, a $3.6 million Green Retrofit Program (GRP) loan, the first of its kind to a multifamily residential property. The GRP loan will provide part of the funding necessary to make major renovations to the property, with an aim toward increasing its energy efficiency, reducing utility costs and otherwise greening the residences.
All together, the 198-unit apartment building consists of eight studios, 55 one-bedrooms, 99 two-bedrooms and 36 three-bedroom units. The property serves tenants earning between 50 percent and 60 percent average median income (currently $38,400 to $46,080 for a family of four). Two or three units will be reserved for “hospitality suites” during reconstruction for temporary relocations of tenants.
The GRP program was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama nearly a year ago. The bill included $250 million for grants and loans for energy and green retrofits.
In the greening of the Section 8-assisted West 135th Street Apartments, the GRP loan is only a part of the picture. Rose Smart Growth Investment Fund, an affiliate of Jonathan Rose Cos., bought the apartments in late 2008 (along with 4,500 square feet of ground-floor retail), with a complete renovation in mind and set about obtaining the necessary public monies and credits to do the project.
New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development provided about $24.1 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance the project for the reconstruction phase, including $22.4 million in permanent financing. Bank of New York provided construction credit enhancement, and the project anticipates receiving other state and federal grants to offset a portion of the cost of the solar panel installation.
All together, the greening project will take about 18 months to complete. Renovation of the ten identical six-story, elevator buildings will entail a long list of work, including replacing existing inefficient boilers with a smaller number of high-efficiency models; installing ceiling fans to reduce dependence on air conditioners; installing rooftop photovoltaic panels to help support base-building electrical loads; installing energy-efficient corridor lighting with motion sensors and renovating common areas with low-toxicity paints, sealants and adhesives; and replacing deteriorated common area flooring with high-recycled-content terra-cotta tiles.