Despite the Dire Housing Image, the South Bronx still sees a road ahead.

There is hardly any good news on housing facades. The ban on deportation expired. Experts now predict soaring house prices could rise unlimited. According to a Pew researchToday, many American adults see affordable housing as a bigger concern in their communities than crime, drugs, or Covid-19.

And no wonder. The lack of affordable housing is inseparable from racial disparities and other disparities in health, education, public safety, and economic opportunity. New York, by an estimate, is currently the nation’s most isolated state. Not coincidentally, its deficit is almost 650,000 won affordable housing units only surpassed by California.

Then, of course, there’s an incredible week in January when a fire killed 12 people in an overcrowded Philadelphia block of houses owned by the public housing authority there. Another 17 people died a few days later when a space heater caught fire in Northwest Double ParkOne Private ownershipSince the 1970s, the Section 8 high-rise in the South Bronx.

Progress can seem impossible.

But slowly, though NIMBY resistance, many states are undoing single-family zoning rules and legalizing so-called accessory dwelling units or ADUs, which mean basement apartments, backyard living quarters, and garages converted vehicle. Last month, the new governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, enacted the ADU legislation during her State of the Union address.

And former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who for years has focused his neighborhood zoning efforts to encourage the construction of more subsidized housing just for low-income neighborhoods. low income, majority, in his last days in office partition in some counties are mostly white, more affluent. That opened the door for his successor, Eric Adams, to do much the same. Like Casey Berkovitz of the recent Century Foundation Writtenthe foundation is forming for a “fairer future”.

After the fire, I toured a few affordable housing projects that opened a year or two ago in the South Bronx, not far from Twin Parks. I waited to see them. Writing about architecture before buildings go live is a guessing game. A few years isn’t a long time in a housing development, but tenants can at least move in and be asked how things are going.

Early last year, residents began settling in at 1490 South Avenue in the neighborhood of Crotona Park East. A 10-story, $60 million, 85,000-square-foot building, it houses 114 permanently affordable studios and one bedroom for seniors, many of whom were formerly homeless. . Class A Real Estate Advisor, a woman-owned business, led develop team. The nonprofit Jewish Association for Seniors operates the property and provides mental health, legal, and other services in the home. Andrew Bernheimer is the architect.

Back in the 1960s, this site, surrounded by social service providers and parking, was occupied by a four-unit apartment building. At some point, the owner defaulted on the mortgage and in the 70s the city took over the property. It’s a pity that New York, which had been hoarding cash and seeing land prices drop along with the rest of the city, sold off so many abandoned and foreclosed sites at the time. The economics of affordable housing include contribution of public land.

Nice weather Department of Housing Development and Conservation, which has seeded a number of excellent affordable housing projects on properties donated by the city, has several precious large parcels left in storage. What remains is mostly small and complex lots like 1490, facing the metro viaduct and partially hidden by a cliff.

Fortunately, Bernheimer is a talented, resourceful architect familiar with the obstacles of affordable development, including challenging locations.

From the street – and from subway cars passing on the elevated tracks – the building he and his colleagues at Brooklyn-based Bernheimer Architects designed is striking. The concave, concave panels of the pale yellow brick create a basket-weave pattern on the facade of the dark ceramic and matte gray tiles. The niches do the job of the more expensive decorations and create animated shadows. The double glazed windows help block out trains.

A second floor garden in the back floats atop the rock. The rooftop terrace and gym have views of the Manhattan skyline. Inside, custom lighting and bright, different-colored paintwork in the lobby and hallways help improve accessibility for seniors and elevate beautifully proportioned public spaces.

It’s a building that delivers high-end architecture in a small, cost-effective, stately dose. “In terms of design, we wanted 1490 to be an inspiring building – not only for other architects but for those in the vicinity and above all for the residents, who we hope to feel at home and feel proud of the building,” said Annie Tirschwell, one of Type A’s founders.

I registered at James Hill, a resident told me he had moved to 1490 from what he suggested was precarious housing in Far Rockaway, Queens. A caretaker is boiling water in her kitchen and volunteering that the building is the prettiest place she works in. Winter sunlight poured in through the large living room window.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Hill told me.

Lambert’s houseacross from the Bronx Zoo, is something else – a five-block campus of six-story apartment buildings completed, like the Twin Parks in dotted site, in the early ’70s. Phipps Houses, the venerable nonprofit provider of affordable housing, built Lambert and still manages it.

It was hailed by progressive architecture writers and politicians when it opened as a pioneering model for affordable housing and urban renewal. Designed by the firm of Davis, Brody & Associates, the complex, with its jagged facades, fun spaces and floorplans surrounding the communal courtyards, looks modern while facing the apartment buildings Traditional mid-rise Bronx and New York’s chic heritage City courtyard works. At a time when urbanist Jane Jacobs was talking about pedestrian traffic in and out of homes and shops staging an important “ballet” of city streets, Lambert boasted 42 entrances and exits. out, leading to the stairs and the fire corridor connecting.

But what at first looked like a solution to neighborhood slum and apartheid policies turned into a dilemma. Lambert (Double Park follows a similar arc) found itself on the brink of default just a few years after it opened. The white middle-class residents who planners expected to move in never materialized. Neither did their expected rent.

Davis, Brody’s load-bearing walls are falling apart; sagging wooden floor. All those grand entrances, exits, and corridors made Lambert a security nightmare. Adam Weinstein, the president of Phipps, remembers that in the 1990s, officials at the Bronx Zoo next door installed signs at the subway station just above the property encouraging visitors to take a detour route avoid Lambert.

What Lambert endured was due—this is also the archetypal story of the South Bronx—for a determined group of residents, a source of federal funds and, in this case, Phipps investments. Now development is in the midst of what Weinstein estimates could amount to $1 billion in reconstruction over the next decade, with Davis, Brody’s buildings gradually being replaced by promising new high-rises there will be nearly 1,000 more permanently subsidized units, totaling 1,665 affordable apartments.

The first of the new towers opens in 2019 – designed by Dattner Architects, the New York firm that collaborated with Phipps, developers Jonathan Rose and Grimshaw Architects a decade ago on a development new development named Via Verde in the South Bronx. The new tower was paid for with funds from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Housing Development Corporation, Bank of America, and Phipps.

It’s an 18-story building with 163 permanent affordable apartments and a doorman. The boxy, drab exterior, steps up and back from the street wall, looks almost belligerently insignificant. But the inside of the building is comfortable and luxurious even compared to the run-down apartments and hallways I’ve seen in older buildings. Crucial to the transition, no tenants were displaced by the new construction.

Lambert’s makeover, as Weinstein points out, is a potential sample to redo New York City Housing Authority facilities. When the renovation proposal began to come together a few years ago, Susanne Schindler lamented in Urban bus that from an architectural standpoint, it would be a pity to lose such a “visionary” example of low- and middle-income housing from the 1960s and ’70s as Davis, Brody’s Lambert . It’s correct. Viewed from the street, the angular old buildings are still eye-catching. As Lambert’s new campus grew, Phipps and Dattner clearly needed to improve their architectural game, aesthetically speaking.

But there’s no arguing with actual upgrades or added apartments.

“I love it,” Bonita Dent, 57, one of the tenants in the high-rise, told me. A Lambert veteran of 20 years, she moved into the new building two years ago with her three school-age grandchildren. A doorman and a single, secure front door are great motivators.

“I like the security we have downstairs – it’s different from the old place where you would see strangers in the halls. I am not afraid to go in and out of my apartment.”

Nessie Panton, 84, was one of Lambert’s first tenants in the ’70s. One day, she said, she took her children to the zoo and saw the project while it was still under construction. She applied for an apartment and moved into a duplex, where she eventually raised her family.

“The new apartment is smaller, but my kids are grown, and here the doorman knows if you live in the building and takes pictures of you if you don’t,” she said. She had heard about the Twin Park fire. “Here we have sprinklers and fire alarm systems in the apartments. I feel much safer,” she said.

Write about Twin Park in 1973former architecture critic of The Times, Paul Goldberger, speculated that the project could “become important in the history of residential design.”

That said, he warns, “design, while compassionate, can only mean so much in combating the obstacles that make up today’s housing problems.”

The story remained the same half a century later. But not the South Bronx. Gradually, it was redone. Progress is not impossible, it is a process.

Weinstein said: “There is always going to be something wrong. “The question is, can we use failure as an opportunity to learn and move forward?” Despite the Dire Housing Image, the South Bronx still sees a road ahead.

Fry Electronics Team

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