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Plan for Major Redevelopment of Covenant House Moves Ahead

By Maya Rajamani | January 28, 2016 10:38am
 The organization serves homeless young people.
The organization serves homeless young people.
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DNAinfo/Rosa Goldensohn

HELL'S KITCHEN — A developer for the new Covenant House headquarters and a residential development coming to the Hudson Yards District is being sought.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation and Covenant House — an agency that provides services and housing to homeless youth — put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) Wednesday searching for a developer to build the project between 40th and 41st streets and 10th and Dyer avenues.

A Covenant House shelter at 460 W. 41st St. and an empty building once used as office and studio space by Hunter College’s MFA program currently occupy the site.

But after the redevelopment takes place, the block will house Covenant House’s new 150,000-square-foot headquarters, along with a separate development with approximately 700 housing units, the agencies said in a release.

An EDC spokesman said the RFP process would determine how many of the units will be affordable, as well as if the development will comprise one or two residential buildings. The city initially said it planned to set aside approximately 40 percent of the new housing as affordable units.

Of those homes, 75 to 100 will be set aside for homeless, disabled and low-income New York City residents through the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the release said.

Local Councilman Corey Johnson called the plan a “profoundly important and exciting development for the West Side.”

“This is a true ‘win-win-win,’ creating supportive housing for New Yorkers in need, hundreds of units of affordable housing and a new headquarters and cutting-edge facility for a premier organization serving runaway and homeless youth,” he said in a statement.

Both Covenant House’s New York affiliate and its national headquarters will operate out of the new facility.

Covenant House's New York executive director Creighton Drury said the new facility will "end the wait lists" at the agency's current facility, which provides shelter for about 320 teens every night.

A Covenant House spokeswoman said construction will proceed in a way that will prevent the site's current residents from being displaced.

Along with affordable and supportive housing, the development is expected to provide retail and commercial space “that serves the needs of the community.”

Potential developers will also have to take into account a 7-train station that could be constructed at 41st Street and Tenth Avenue, the RFP said.

In a June letter to the EDC and HUD, Community Board 4 requested any development plans preserve and restore the former Carnegie Library on West 40th Street. The building opened as a library in 1913, and is now a part of the Covenant House complex.

The letter also asks that the facade design "avoid [the development] looking like a dystopian glass box."

CB4 chair Delores Rubin said in a statement that she was pleased Covenant House had chosen to stay in Hell’s Kitchen.

“The community board has goals of providing affordable housing on the development site, preserving the former West 40th Street Carnegie Library for use as a community facility and designing buildings which foster and preserve residential and neighborhood character,” Rubin said.

The deadline for proposals is May 2 at 4 p.m.