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Dream team to break new ground in building affordable green homes.

A development dream team has been tapped to transform a derelict city-owned site in the South Bronx into a mixed use community that will set standards for the future creation of communities that are both affordable and environmentally sound.

Dattner-Grimshaw (PRDG) was created by representatives of Phipps Houses, Dattner Architects, Jonathan Rose Companies and Grimshaw, to compete in the city's first ever juried design competition to come up with a plan that would not only transform the 60,000 s/f site, but would serve as a blueprint for the integration of sustainability and design excellence with affordable housing.

The competition site is a 60,000 s/f vacant lot that consists of cty-owned property and a legally abandoned rail right-of-way. The City will now sell the site to PRDG for a nominal fee in exchange for the design and construction of their mixed-use development that includes affordable housing for New Yorkers of low, middle, and moderate-in-comes.

The PRDG team presented a proposal, referred to as "Green Way" or "Via Verde", that will consist of 202 residential units, as well as retail and community spaces, and parking.

The proposed development incorporates a range of residential spaces, varying from apartments in a tower to duplexes in a mid-rise to townhouses.

The development is organized around a multi-functional garden that begins at street-level as a courtyard and plaza and spirals upward through a series of programmed, south-facing roof gardens that end in a sky terrace.

The gardens will be used for fruit and vegetable cultivation, passive recreation and social gathering, and provide storm water control and enhanced insulation.

Phipps Community Development Corporation (CDC) plans to expand its green market in East Tremont and community-supported agriculture collaboration with Just Food and will use Via Verde's plaza for a neighborhood green market or organic food co-op.

"We are pleased and honored to have been selected by the New Housing New York jury to work with HPD to help develop a next generation of housing that is affordable and green," said a spokesman for the PRDG team.

"We are inspired by a great vision to create places that are environmentally and socially responsible, but to do it within the constraints of affordable housing budgets and important community input. One of the great pleasures of this competition was combining so much great thought from knowledgeable individuals, yet coming together as a team: we became a community so that we could design a community."

The competition, known as the New Housing New York (NHNY) Legacy Project, emerged from a collaboration between the NHNY Steering Committee, the city's Housing Preservation Department and AIANY. It was sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Enterprise, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and AIA.

Following the opening of the competition in June 2006, 32 architect-development teams submitted qualifications to the design jury. Last September, the jury chose five finalists to submit full development proposals. Each of the finalists received NYSERDA funded stipends to create their proposals. In addition, Enterprise provided two grants totaling $30,000. Both grants went toward operational support, which included the launch of the competition's website, support of the judging process, and an environmental report. The NEA is providing an additional $30,000 for the preparation and installation of an exhibition at the Center for Architecture that will showcase the five finalists designs.

PRDG's Via Verde plan consists of both affordable rental and homeownership units and the proposal assumes that the rental units will be funded through a combination of the Housing Development Corporation's (HDC) New Housing Opportunity Program and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and that the homeownership units will use HDC's Affordable Co-op Program and New Market Tax Credits.

"We believe this unprecedented competition will raise the level of design sustainability and serve as a beacon for affordable housing across the city," said HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan.

"Given the incredible response the competition received, and the innovative proposals the jury reviewed, the competition presents a real opportunity to change the future of affordable housing. We hope that PRDG's proposal will serve as a prototype for future affordable housing developments built nationally and internationally."

Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, 2007 President of the AIA New York Chapter added, "New Housing New York is a remarkable collaboration between architects, government, and the private sector. It is exactly the kind of initiative that illustrates how we, as design professionals, can have a positive and concrete impact on the future of our city. Hopefully, the process we have developed through this project will impact planning and construction beyond its realization and help us rethink how we can design sustainable affordable housing throughout New York."

By incorporating sustainable material choices, efficient mechanical systems and renewable strategies, Via Verde will aim to achieve gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Mechanical systems will include enhanced ventilation to apartments and individual control of heating and cooling. Sun screens will shade the south and west facades and each unit will include high performance windows.

"The overall competition and the quality of work that went into these proposals provides a snapshot of the innovative building construction going on in New York State," said NYSERDA president and CEO Peter R. Smith.

"Through NYSERDA's New York Energy $martSM Multifamily Building Performance Program, we are encouraging many more developers, architects and others to design and construct their properties to the ENERGY STAR standards.

NYSERDA continually works to illustrate that high-quality, healthy, and energy efficient housing can also be affordable."

The Via Verde development is part of Mayor Bloomberg's $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to build or preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years.
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Comment:Dream team to break new ground in building affordable green homes.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Feb 14, 2007
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