Unithree Completes $12M Rehab of Staten Island Affordable Housing Development

Unithree Investment Corp. has completed a $12 million improvement program on the Parkhill Affordable Housing Complex in Staten Island.

Staten Island, N.Y.—Unithree Investment Corp. has completed a $12 million improvement program on the Parkhill Affordable Housing Complex in Staten Island.

Located at 260 Park Hill Ave., Parkhill is comprised of eight buildings and is the largest affordable housing complex in Staten Island, home to more than 3,000 low-income residents.

“We have worked hard to improve the quality of life at Parkhill,” Rishi Pande, Unithree’s manager, tells MHN. “The upgrading of the common areas, renovating the apartments and improving the energy efficiency of all the buildings have been well received by our tenants.”

Between 1998-2002, Parkhill received funding from HUD and Freddie Mac’s affordable housing program, allowing the owners to complete a $10 million capital improvement program to the property. Unithree then invested $12 million in a second round of renovations undertaken in two phases.

Phase 1 ended in 2005 and phase 2, which was delayed due to financing issues resulting from the recession, was just finished with the support of Freddie Mac and Berkadia Commercial Mortgage LLC.

“The owners have a cycle of every 10 years where they like to go in and upgrade the core mechanicals and systems, and fix facade work to maintain the building,” Pande says. “We started this round in 2005, but that was halted due to funding issues, so in 2009 we closed on a refinance of the building and were able to get enough capital to finish the [rehab] plan.”

The renovations include electrical rewiring of kitchens, upgrading to GFI outlets, the replacement of 4,800 single pane windows with double pane insulated windows, adding a new boiler system with a digitized electronic control system for the complex and modernizing the 18 elevators.

“This time we designed it more from a weatherization approach, making the building more efficient, improving the mechanicals so we can keep our heating bills down and our electric bills down,” Pande says. “From a curb appeal, we redid all the lobbies and entryways and put in new designs on the entry doors.”

There were also numerous upgrades to the apartment interiors and common areas, including the addition of the Barack Obama Computer Center, which has 20 computers and will be used for after-school studies and job training.

“It all culminated with the opening of the computer center,” Pande says. “Now there’s a place for the tenants to go and there will be web-design seminars, computer literacy programs…and the community at large is getting momentum in driving these positive programs.”

Pande believes the community has benefited and been strengthened as a direct result of the physical upgrades and there’s been a significant decrease in crime and vandalism on the property and in surrounding neighborhoods.

“We always envisioned creating an environment where the tenants felt a certain amount of pride in their homes and community, and we’re now starting to empower the people that live there to help us maintain the buildings,” Pande says. “If they see some garbage on the street, they will throw it away, and we have a massive tenant base to keep it clean because they appreciate the money we are putting in to make the building look nice.”