Breaking Ground Tops Off Bronx Senior Housing Community

The affordable project was designed by COOKFOX Architects and incorporates Passive House standards.
Betances Residence. Image courtesy of Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground has topped off Betances Residence, an affordable senior housing development in the South Bronx, N.Y. Designed by COOKFOX Architects, it is among just a few New York City supportive residences to incorporate the rigorous Passive House energy use standard.

Situated between Willis and Brook Avenues and spanning 142nd to 143rd Streets, Betances will feature two eight-story residential towers. Combined, the structures will provide 130 studio apartments and 22 one-bedroom residences. Forty-five of the 152 units will be set aside for formerly homeless seniors. Current New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents will be granted preferred status for 26 of the residences. A fitness room will be among amenities offered.

Onsite social services for low- and extremely-low-income residents age 62 and older will be provided  by the Center for Urban Community Services. This will be the 11th residential collaboration between Breaking Ground and its long-standing partner.

Tight envelope

Programming the community facility will be the DreamYard Project, a Bronx-based arts nonprofit furnishing visual and digital arts programming for teens and young adults.

The Passive House design features a tight building envelope and engineered ventilation systems, delivering high indoor air quality for Breaking Ground’s senior residents. Solar panels will be another feature of Betances. Use of biophilic design strategies, including incorporation of natural materials, patterns and abundant natural light, is another way the building contributes to resident well being. The project reflects the commitment by the NYCHA and New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to bring new affordable homes to underutilized land.

The $100 million development of Betances Residence received capital funding from the New York City Council and Bronx Borough President’s Office, HPD, HDC, OTDA/HHAC and Wells Fargo Bank N.A. The Corporation for Supportive Housing provided pre-development funds. The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust purchased tax-exempt bonds to finance the development.

COVID disruption

One of the key challenges in getting to the topping off point in this development, as for most New York City construction projects, was the disruption caused by COVID-19,” Brenda Rosen, president & CEO of Breaking Ground, told Multi-Housing News. “However, the pandemic has further exposed the deep inequity and wealth disparities that plague communities across New York City, and has revealed again just how important it is to bring more affordable and supportive housing to the city, and as quickly as possible.

“This topping off puts Betances one step closer to becoming one of only a handful of supportive housing residences in the city that has a Passive House.

Breaking Ground recently announced a project in Brooklyn’s DUMBO enclave.