Affordable Housing Company Successfully Redevelops Brownfield

By Lisa Iannucci, Green Building Corresspondent New York–According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a “brownfield” is a property where the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Although some developers are hesitant to work with brownfields, especially because of the costs, other developers, such as the New York City-based The Arker Cos., are transforming brownfields into high-quality, affordable housing. The Arker Cos. transformed one Bronx brownfield that was formerly occupied by a shuttered gas station into the White Plains Courtyard. The Courtyard is a 100-unit, seven-story, 120,000-sq.-ft. development that includes 16,500 sq.-ft. of ground-floor retail space. The project cost is estimated to be $27 million and includes a rooftop terrace common area for residents.  New York State environmental officials certified that the site has attained the state’s top-of-class “Track 1” cleanup ranking. It has also won qualification for “unrestricted use” by meeting the most demanding and stringent environmental standards set by New York State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. According to The Arker Cos., this development represents the first affordable housing initiative in the state – and the first brownfield remediation in the Bronx – to have gained this distinction. “White Plains Courtyard shows that it’s possible for a developer to build housing in a profitable way while taking the environment into account. The Arker Cos. has achieved this by changing a contaminated area into one of New York State’s ‘top of the class’ cleanup sites,” says Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr.   The development received tax credits through the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, tax-exempt bonds through New York City Housing Development Corp., and financial and technical support through the state Department of Environmental Conservation.