INWOOD — A decrepit building that had to be evacuated three years ago is reopening next month after a major overhaul — with apartments available to new residents starting as low as $720 a month.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development is now accepting applications for 40 units at 552-556 Academy St., which recently underwent a $22 million overhaul under the guidance of affordable housing nonprofit the Community League of the Heights (CLOTH). The group took over ownership of the building from the prior landlord after it was evacuated in 2011 for cracks throughout the structure, as well as sagging roofs and floors.
The units will be rented at affordable rates to low-income residents, with preference given to applicants who currently live in Community Board 12.
One-bedroom units will start at $720 a month, with two-bedroom units going for $1,059 a month. Applicants are required to make between $25,200 to $50,340 per year to qualify, depending on the size of the unit and the family, according to HPD.
The building's $22 million renovation included structural repairs and unit-level improvements, as well as the addition of a rooftop garden, a community room and a laundry room in the basement, officials said.
The building will also welcome back 30 of its 32 former tenants — many at their former rent-regulated rates — for as little as $100 a month, said CLOTH executive director Yvonne Stennett.
Tenants were forced to leave the buidling in February 2011 after the Department of Buildings issued a partial vacate order and a violation for structural stability to the building. According to the DOB, problems included structural cracks throughout the building, exposed wiring, sagging floors and roofs, a defective chimney, collapsing concrete and leaning parapets.
It was the second time the building had to be evacuated in recent years, after the city forced tenants out in 2006 due to fears that part of it would collapse.
Stennett said that tenants, many of them rent-regulated, could move back in as early as the end of November.
Stennett said that the discount for former tenants is a well-deserved reward for those who lived in deplorable conditions for years.
“I remember the night that we had to evacuate the tenants. It was painful to know that we as a society were allowing people to live like that,” she explained. “It’s quite vindicating to see the improvements and to know the quality of life that these people will now have.”