Huge Affordable Housing Project Kicks Off in Hell's Kitchen

By Mathew Katz on November 8, 2011 9:24am 

A rendering of what the project will likely look like when completed.
A rendering of what the project will likely look like when completed.
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The Gotham Organization

HELL'S KITCHEN — Work has started on the largest affordable housing project in Manhattan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday.

The development — a $520 million, 1,200-unit building that will take up nearly the entire block of West 45th Street between 10th and 11th avenues — is being built by the Gotham Organization and is expected to be ready for tenants by the end of 2014.

"We always believed that the far West Side of Manhattan had tremendous potential for providing what our growing city needs, and that's more jobs for New Yorkers and more affordable housing for them to live in," the mayor said at a press conference Monday.

The project will consist of a high-rise and several low-rise towers, and will provide 600 permanent units of low to middle income apartments, along with 550 luxury apartments. The middle income homes will be available to households with incomes of between $66,000 and $135,000 a year.

"The 432 units of middle-income housing will serve an often-overlooked segment of the population in need of appropriately priced housing to remain within the city limits," said Gotham president David Picket.

As part of its agreement with the city, Gotham will give $15 million to help replace the 276-seat P.S. 51, which is currently on that block, with a new school on the same site with 630 seats. Gotham will also contribute $20 million to affordable housing projects in other parts of Manhattan.

The area has seen several major construction projects get off the ground lately. Last week, handbag designer Coach announced that it would anchor the first building in the stalled Hudson Yards project, kickstarting construction for next year.

Gotham's site has not been zoned for residential use since 1975. While outside of the main Hudson Yards area, the block benefited from a 2005 rezoning plan that allowed residential use in the area.

"The impossible is happening on the West Side with this development," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at Monday's press conference.

"This can be a great example to other neighborhoods that you can create permanent affordable housing and you can create moderate and middle income affordable housing."

Representatives from Gotham were quick to point out that the company is taking no direct subsidies for the development, instead funding the project with $555 million in bonds issued through the agency New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

The scale of the project will contribute significantly to the Bloomberg administration's plan, launched in 2003, to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing by the end of 2014.

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