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Children's Museum and Affordable Housing Complex Breaks Ground

By Jeff Mays | July 19, 2012 3:52pm

HARLEM—When it opens next year, Broadway Housing Communities' 124 units of affordable housing and children's museum at 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Sugar Hill will provide the Upper Manhattan neighborhood with a much-needed boost, said city officials who broke ground on the project Thursday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the project provides necessary affordable housing but also a "rich cultural resource that will build on the grand tradition of arts in Sugar Hill."

The $80.2 million project was designed by British architect David Adjaye and will include studio to three bedroom apartments with 70 percent targeted to the very low income. An early childhood education center will serve 100 pre-school children on-sit and another 70 families with home-based services.

The Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling will also anchor the space. The museum was originally supposed to be the Faith Ringgold Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, a collaboration with Harlem native Faith Ringgold who is known for her painted story quilts.

But Ringgold pulled out after a dispute with Broadway Housing Communities, The New York Times reported in February.

Ellen Baxter, Broadway Housing Communities founder and executive director, called the project a "remarkable development on Sugar Hill," and couldn't contain her excitement as speaker after speaker praised her efforts.

"Ellen Baxter believed in this community when no one else believed in this community," said Community Board 9 chair Rev. Georgette Morgan-Thomas.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the project represents "a new chapter for this community" that could "change how we think about housing for the homeless and low income."

As the ceremony ended heavy construction equipment started working  on the foundation of the project while iron workers welded near a wall.

"It's been a great morning," said Baxter.