Mayor Delfino Attend Ground Breaking for White Plains’ First Affordable Housing Project with GeoExchange Heating and Cooling System

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWhite Plains, N.Y.–Community Housing Innovations (CHI), along with White Plains Mayor Joseph Delfino, recently broke ground on the city’s newest affordable housing development, the 14-unit Minerva Place Condominiums. Community Housing Innovations Inc., a White Plains-based nonprofit organization, is developing and constructing the project, which features the city’s first GeoExchange system for heating and cooling, making the units highly energy efficient. Patick Fitzgerald, project manager for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), notes that it is one of the first projects in the state of New York to exceed the New York Energy $mart Multifamily Performance Program guidelines. Drilling has begun on the first of eight wells for the GeoExchange, also known as a ground source heat pump system. Each well is 350 ft. deep.“With the Mayor’s support, we set out to show that affordable housing could be built with the option of energy efficiency,” says Alexander Roberts, executive director of CHI. “Minerva Place represents a combination for me of my two greatest passions – affordable workforce housing and energy efficiency.” In addition to geothermal heat pumps that use the constant temperature of the earth to heat and cool the building, Minerva Place Condominiums features energy-efficient construction techniques, insulation, plumbing and lighting upgrades that are projected to save homebuyers about 30 percent on energy costs, compared to a typical new development.The project features 11 two-bedroom and three one-bedroom units with hardwood floors, Corian countertops in the kitchen, and cultured stone countertops in the bathrooms. All the units are affordable to families with incomes between 80 percent and 100 percent of Westchester County’s Area Median Income (AMI), which is between $73,000 and $91,000 for a family of three. The one-bedroom units are priced from $225,000, and the two-bedroom units are priced from $265,000. In addition, for families who qualify, CHI may provide up to $30,000 in down payment assistance from the New York State Housing Trust Fund.White Plains donated land and about $75,000 per unit in subsidy from its Affordable Housing Fund and NYSERDA is providing about $55,000 to subsidize the energy-saving improvements.Unlike most affordable developments, which are limited to families earning less than 80 percent of the AMI, Minerva Place Condominiums appeals to families with two wage earners. Typically these families are disqualified from affordable housing opportunities.“The Minerva Place condominiums appeal to families entering the homebuyer market,” says Mayor Delfino. “In these difficult economic times, I am proud to say White Plains has options to elevate families into home ownership. The $265,000 condos will fill a critical workforce housing need.”