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Hunters Point South Affordable Apartments Open With Farm and Beehive

By Jeanmarie Evelly | May 22, 2015 4:44pm | Updated on May 22, 2015 5:28pm
 Tenants began moving into the first building of the city's Hunters Point South affordable housing development last week
Hunters Point South Opens to Tenants
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LONG ISLAND — Tenants last week began moving into the first building of the city's Hunters Point South affordable housing development, where amenities will include a lush rooftop farm and a honey-producing beehive.

Developer Related Companies said 31 units have been filled at Hunters Point South Crossing, located at 1-55 Borden Ave. — one of two under-construction waterfront buildings where rents are permanently affordable for low and moderate-income households.

More than 90,000 people applied to live in the first two buildings of the complex, which has 925 total apartments. Related Senior Vice President Frank Monterisi said it was the largest turnout in the history of the city's affordable housing program.

Providing housing that will allow families to stay in New York is "what the program is all about... keeping them in this community, a great community, a great neighborhood, one that everyone loves, and providing great apartments, great services and great amenities," Monterisi said.

Among those amenities is a 2,300-square-foot organic "farm" on the 14th floor terrace at Hunters Point South Commons, located at 1-50 50th Ave., where fruits, vegetables and herbs are growing in more than a dozen garden beds.

Tenants from both buildings will be able to use the urban farm, where they'll be able to join the "garden club" and help tend to strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, eggplant, green beans and other crops.

The garden is also growing greens like kale and arugula, as well as herbs like basil, rosemary, cilantro and thyme. All of the produce from the farm will be available to residents for free.

Residents can also sign up for GrowNYC's Fresh Food Box program, where they can pay $12 for a weekly box of fruits and vegetables from local greenmarkets.

"We look to do stuff like this, that really makes healthy living a part of living in this building," Monterisi said. "This garden is a central part of the sustainability story, and it's also a central part of the community-building story."

Nonprofit gardening group GrowNYC will help run the farm, where it will host cooking demos and gardening workshops on techniques like pickling and how to control pests without using pesticides.

"We tried to create a garden that's going to be interesting for the tenants, and for the children as well," said Gerard Lordahl, director of gardening at GrowNYC.

The terrace is also home to an apiary that contains more than 13,000 honeybees. The beehive will be locked for safety reasons, and will be cared for by beekeepers from GrowNYC and Berkshire Berries, which will run beekeeping and honey-harvesting workshops with tenants.

Other amenities at Hunters Point South include a communal lounge and party rooms, a fitness center, children's playroom and a parking garage.

The housing lottery for the two buildings' ended in December, and the rest of the apartments will be filled by those who have applied by that deadline. Apartments at the site are permanently rent stabilized; most units were for moderate-income households, where a person making between $55,200 and $97,020 a year could rent a studio for $1,561 a month.

Another 186 units were reserved for low-income households, starting at $494 a month for a studio for one person making between $18,618 and $23,520 a year.

Construction on the upper floors of both buildings is still under way, and tenants are expected to begin moving into Hunters Point South Commons this summer. Residents will continue to move into both properties through the end of the year, according to the developer.

The buildings are the first to open as part of the city's Hunters Point South housing plan, a multi-phase project that will eventually build around 5,000 apartments on the Long Island City waterfront.