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Melrose North Topping Off Event

Melrose North Topping Off Event

Photo credit: S:US

On April 5, we held a virtual Topping Off ceremony to celebrate the completion of the structural phase for the Melrose North building. There were 69 participants, which included Bronx Pro Group, construction partners, government leaders, funders, community members and Services for the UnderServed (S:US) board members and staff. The topping off signals the conclusion of the highest construction risk period in any development.

Martha Masoero, S:US Director of Housing Development, kicked off the event from the lobby of the Melrose North site. The full structure is now in place, all the way up to the roof.

Martha started with an overview of the project. Melrose North is located at 341 E 162nd Street in the South Bronx neighborhood of Morrisania. This project will provide 171 units of affordable and supported housing in the South Bronx. 103 of those units will be supported housing units set aside for formerly homeless individuals with mental health or substance use disorders, as well as individuals and families who have experienced domestic violence. S:US will be the service provider for the supported housing units and residents will have access to on-site supportive services. The rest of the units will be affordable units, serving households earning a range of incomes between 40% and 80% of area median income (AMI).

In addition to the residential components, Melrose North will have unique and exciting features. The building will feature approximately 5,000 square feet of community facility space on the 162nd Street side of the building to be used as a youth arts education facility operated by the DreamYard Project. This community arts organization will teach Bronx youth professional development, design, and marketing skills for the burgeoning gaming industry.

Vanessa L. Gibson, Bronx Borough President, thanked all the project partners. “Melrose North is going to be transformative. We’ve seen far too many cases of domestic violence in the Bronx and New York. This project will provide long-term housing that domestic violence survivors need. This Melrose North project is an investment in our families and our children. These are no longer amenities, these are necessities. So many families struggle with basic necessities, as we’ve seen in the pandemic. I thank you, S:US and all the partners. Congratulations on this topping off ceremony!”

Justin Stein, Bronx Pro Group Senior Vice President of Development & Construction, took us on a tour of the building and discussed the sustainability aspects of this project. The tour started in the lobby of this 12-story building, moved through the DreamYard Project space mezzanine, and then walked through a typical apartment. What differentiates this construction from most others is that we are maximizing sustainability features – Melrose North is being built to the Passive House standard, which will make it one of the most energy-efficient buildings in New York City. It has an extremely energy-efficient envelope. One of the great things about Passive House design and construction is not only the extremely low greenhouse gasses, but it also provides superior air quality to the residents. The energy recovery ventilator system provides filtered fresh air to every room in the apartments and common areas. This standard will significantly reduce the development’s environmental impact as well as ensure the project’s long-term financial viability. Units will also have LED lighting, low-flow water fixtures, and energy-efficient windows. It will be a very quiet place to live. On the roof the building will also have a large photovoltaic solar array.

The building was designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects and the General Contractor is Home Builders. Common areas will include community and computer rooms, outdoor gym, laundry, play area, and community garden. The building will include 24-hour security.

The project will also include the construction of a new accessible ramp serving the Northbound Melrose Metro North Station, which will benefit the broader community. Construction logistics at this site were challenging because it’s extremely close to the neighboring buildings and the Metro North train. Everyone worked together to make this project possible.

Melrose North will bring much needed housing and services to a currently underutilized plot of land. It would not have been possible without our partners from NYCHA. The site used to house a trash compactor serving the neighboring NYCHA properties, which the development team temporarily relocated for the duration of construction. For the first time, a new trash compactor space will be included in the building footprint on the ground floor.

The total development cost is $91M and we’re thankful to our government and funding partners. This construction project is financed through HDC tax-exempt bonds and subsidy, HPD financing through the Supportive Housing Loan Program (SHLP), tax credit equity syndicated by Enterprise, a construction loan provided by JP Morgan Chase and $1.9M from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. Fifty-two of the supported housing units will receive NYC 15/15 HRA subsidy for the social services and matching rental assistance from NYC Housing Preservation & Development to cover operating expenses. The remaining 51 supported housing units are funded by the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Construction is expected to be completed by June 2023.

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