In Hunts Point in the Bronx, a unique approach to development currently under construction — and featuring a design by multifamily experts RKTB Architects — will soon bring much-needed affordable rental options to this residential-industrial neighborhood.
The 102,000 s/f residence which recently topped out at 700 Manida Street will offer 108 studio and one, two and three-bedrooms affordable units, with 48 reserved for seniors — and it’s the inclusion of senior living units that make the project unusual. For nonprofit development groups Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY) and Nos Quedamos, RKTB initially proposed six stories of affordable apartments for families. But it wasn’t until the architects and their clients considered adding senior housing that the project became financially viable.
According to Alex Brito, AIA, a principal at RKTB, “We were limited to about 55,000 s/f of residential development on this site, and less than 60 units. Then we explored a new possibility, utilizing a recent Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) modification, the Affordable Independent Residences for Seniors program, which allows for increases in density when set-asides for seniors are part of the program.”
RKTB and their clients are early-adopters of the program approved by New York City Council in 2016. Adding senior units allowed the development to increase the allowable floor-area by about 45 percent. The architects then worked on a design that would be appropriate and welcome in the neighborhood, contributing value on multiple levels and fostering a sense of community.
“Our first major decision was to distribute the senior and affordable units throughout the entire building, rather than having separate areas for each,” says Brito. “This approach encourages residents of all ages to interact, creating a more stable, positive living environment for everyone.”
To support this approach, the design includes 7,100 s/f of landscaped yard in the rear of the L-shaped building with spaces designated for active play and for quiet activities, as well as 3,700 s/f of street-level community facility space for uses such as doctors’ offices or daycare.
RKTB’s approach to the design is also intended to foster pride in the neighborhood and add value by creating affordable rentals that have a “market-rate feel.” The eight-story building’s massing is broken into sections that “step down” toward the adjacent low-rise brownstones. To add depth and visual interest, the design includes a set-back massing at the main entrance, facade materials alternating between masonry and metal paneling, and solar shades over the window openings. The architects also identified cost-effective material and finish choices for the apartment interiors that would give them that market-rate feel, such as quartz countertops and high-quality LED fixtures.
The new residence at 700 Manida is expected to be complete by summer of 2020.