PRESS | THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
MOROZOV PROJECT | SYDNEY HOUSE
Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit organization known for single-family homes erected with volunteer help, has chosen a Bronx site to develop its biggest U.S. project, a 60-unit apartment building.
With the development, to be known as Sydney House, the group is also becoming increasingly involved in New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for affordable housing.
The $18 million development, located at 839-843 Tilden St., is in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx. The seven-story building will have one-, two- and three-bedroom co-op apartments, according to Olga Jobe, Habitat NYC’s vice president of real estate and construction.
The development will be Habitat’s largest in the U.S. by number of units. The group’s largest New York City development is now a 40-apartment building on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
“We want to build louder and bigger in New York,” said Ms. Jobe, referring to Mr. de Blasio’s initiative to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.
A rendering of Sydney House. PHOTO: NORMAN COX/FRANKE GOTTSEGEN COX ARCHITECTS
While Habitat NYC will continue to focus on renovating single-family homes, the organization is already moving to secure land for more new-construction, mid-rise, multifamily housing.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development is helping to subsidize the project, providing $70,000 per unit, said Ms. Jobe.
“We appreciate the fact that the development is offering a greater density of homeownership,” said Susan Kensky, the agency’s assistant commissioner for new construction.
Prices for the co-op units will be set at 50% to 80% of the area’s medium household income, which was $51,470 in 2012, according to the latest U.S. Census data available. In addition to the city’s subsidy, Habitat NYC has applied for a state subsidy of $40,000 per unit, and requested funds from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and City Council member Andy King.
Habitat NYC teamed with the Almat Group, a for-profit developer based in Brooklyn, to purchase the site in the Bronx. The team expects to close on financing by the end of the year and begin construction in January 2016. The building should open in 2017.
The project represents Almat Group’s first affordable housing development, said co-founder Donald Matheson. “We are looking to expand our portfolio in the city and invest in more affordable housing,” he said.
Ms. Jobe said the design of Sydney House is likely to include energy-efficient windows and appliances, locally sourced construction materials and water-efficient fixtures. There will also be 26 parking spaces free for residents.
Buyers must participate in Habitat NYC’s “sweat-equity fund”—250 hours of volunteer work with Habitat per adult, per household. Ms. Jobe says it typically takes the household one year to complete the work. In exchange, Habitat NYC helps arrange 30-year mortgages with a fixed, 2% interest rate and a 1% down payment, according to Ms. Jobe.
Sydney House will also be constructed by the help of volunteers. According to Mr. Matheson, volunteers will pitch in with finishes like painting, kitchen work and landscaping. Once complete, this development will join two other multifamily buildings developed by Habitat in the borough.
“We can be bullish on the Bronx,” said Ms. Jobe. “It has all the right ingredients for the type of work we do.”