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NYCHA to Bring Mixed Market Rate, Affordable Housing to LaGuardia Houses

By Allegra Hobbs | April 28, 2017 1:39pm | Updated on May 1, 2017 7:55am
 NYCHA plans to bring a mixture of affordable and market-rate housing to the LaGuardia Houses.
NYCHA plans to bring a mixture of affordable and market-rate housing to the LaGuardia Houses.
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DNAinfo/Lisha Arino

LOWER EAST SIDE — Hundreds of new affordable and market-rate housing units could be coming to the LaGuardia Houses under a plan from the New York City Housing Authority to raise revenue for much-needed repairs to existing public housing projects, the agency said.

NYCHA plans to bring the mixed-income project to a plot of land on Madison Street between Rutgers and Clinton streets currently occupied by an underutilized parking lot and a trash compactor, both of which will be relocated, according to the agency. The neighboring Little Flower Playground will not be impacted, officials said.

Half of the units would be market-rate while the other half would be set aside for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), or $51,540 for a family of three.

At the LaGuardia Houses, a cluster of 10 buildings mostly bordered by Rutgers, Madison, Montgomery and Cherry streets, a family of three would be eligible to rent if they earned no more than $65,250.

The agency will consult LaGuardia residents before determining the height of the project and the number of units, said officials, but the development could go as high as 35 stories and could hold between 400 and 500 units. 

"We go out to the community and we tell them what we can do there, then part of the process with the residents and the community is to talk about what they would like to see in the community," said Executive Vice President of Development Nicole Ferreira, who noted a larger project would allow for more improvements to the existing housing.

"The lower the building and the less units the less money NYCHA can re-invest back into our public housing," she said. 

The project is part of NYCHA's "NextGeneration Neighborhoods" program, a 10-year plan to create more housing that will bring in funds for much-needed repairs to existing projects. The agency is currently carrying a $17 billion capital deficit and can't keep up with day-to-day operating costs, officials say.

LaGuardia Houses alone is in need of $70 million in capital improvements, according to a NYCHA representative. 

NYCHA in 2015 launched the program when it announced the premiere developments in Boerum Hill's Wyckoff Gardens, where the plan came under fire from critics, as well as the Upper East Side's Holmes Towers.

The Lower East Side development will be driven by an extensive community engagement process, said officials involved in the project.

Residents on Friday will be notified of the development by letter, then will receive in-person visits from NYCHA reps the following week, signaling the start of a months-long community engagement process to gather feedback on the project before a developer is sought, said a NYCHA official spearheading the outreach efforts. 

"We're taking an unprecedented approach to this project — we're knocking on every door, we're having direct conversation with residents," said Sideya Sherman, NYCHA's executive vice president of community engagement.

Community meetings surrounding the projects will begin in May, said Sherman, and visioning sessions will be scheduled to gather feedback on community wishes for the projects.

NYCHA will put out a request for proposals (RFP) in fall or winter of this year, and will select a developer based on how closely their pitch mirrors the community's wishes, said Sherman.

"We want to make sure throughout the process we're taking these residents' concerns, we're getting their ideas and that is actually codified in the community visioning document," she said. 

Once a developer is selected, tentatively in spring 2018, NYCHA will kick off a participatory budgeting process with residents to garner feedback on what improvements are most needed in the houses. NYCHA has committed to funneling half of the revenue from the new development into improvements at the LaGuardia Houses, said Ferreira, while the other half will be used to other NYCHA improvements. 

Construction is slated to begin in 2019.