By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer
New York—The largest affordable housing community to be developed in New York City in more than 30 years has broken ground at Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City. Related Companies, Phipps Houses and Monadnock are combining forces on the $330 million energy-efficient development, which will be built to withstand the kind of severe weather unleashed by Hurricane Sandy.
The mixed residential and commercial components of the $330 million Phase I of Hunter’s Point South are to be built by Monadnock. Phase I’s two towers feature 925 units and approximately 17,000 square feet of retail space. All residences will be permanently affordable to serve families whose current incomes range from $33,000 to $191,000 and who need middle-income housing near the city.
“Mayor Bloomberg has had a vision for this new middle-income neighborhood,” Frank Dubinsky, project developer at Brooklyn’s Monadnock Construction, tells MHN. “It was going to be the site of the Olympic Village for the 2012 Olympics. Instead, this will be a new neighborhood serving middle-income New Yorkers.”
The development is expected to attract public servants such as police officers, fire fighters, teachers and others who, though providing services critical to any municipality, increasingly find themselves unable to afford homes in Manhattan and Long Island City. The location of Hunter’s Point South will ensure they enjoy quick and convenient access to different parts of New York City via the 7 and G trains, as well as the New York Water Taxi.
It took approximately a year to put together a team of lenders capable of raising $230 to $240 million of debt, says Frank Monterisi, vice president of Manhattan-based Related Companies L.P., a member of the development team and leader of the development activities.
“That’s a pretty big loan,” he adds. “It required a continuous and very healthy dialogue between the banks, the development team and the city agencies. The lenders and the city agencies were very creative and very out-of-the-box thinkers in putting the structure together.”
One of the biggest challenges was ensuring the buildings could function in an emergency, such as another hurricane of Sandy’s force and strength.
When the various stakeholders in the development came together in November in Sandy‘s destructive wake, virtually all of them reported having suffered some damage to their offices. That led to revising the design of the Hunter’s Point South buildings, Monterisi recalls.
“We moved every piece of equipment that could be moved up to the second floor,” he says. “And all utility lines coming in to the building were placed on concrete pads three feet above the level reached by water during Hurricane Sandy. We also made sure there are emergency generators in both buildings.”
Phase I of Hunter’s Point South is expected to open in 2014. When it does, it will mean a great deal to workers whose services are crucial to the city, but who have lost housing options near their places of employment, Dubinsky says.
“The city is building a beautiful new waterfront park in front of our buildings, allowing Long Island City to access its waterfront in a way it’s been unable to do,” he adds. “We’re catalyzing a new neighborhood. These are the first two of seven new buildings that will come to this neighborhood over time. We have to do it right.”