On Tuesday, January 10, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) closed on the financing of the latest Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) transaction to fund comprehensive renovations for 862 residents living across 557 apartments at Audubon Houses, Bethune Gardens, and Marshall Plaza. The infusion of capital funding will enable the PACT partner team of Dantes Partners, Apex Building Group, Pyramid ETC Companies, and Faria Management to begin the work of fully rehabilitating the three campuses located in the Washington Heights and Sugar Hill sections of Upper Manhattan – which were built in 1962, 1967, and 1986 respectively. The non-profit community organization Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC) will provide on-site services and community programming for all developments. Residents will receive fully renovated apartments with new interior doors, windows, flooring, kitchen appliances, and baths; building interior and exterior grounds improvements; new energy-efficient windows; new trash compactors; and new security cameras to increase tenant safety. The three developments will also receive significant infrastructure upgrades, including the modernization of elevator systems, new trash compactors, new laundry rooms, updated community rooms, new lighting and electrical panels, and additional building interior improvements such as the addition of more natural light throughout the space and renovation of the mailbox area. Construction will take place at the three NYCHA campuses over the next three years.
“On the heels of an incredibly successful year improving the homes of tens of thousands of NYCHA residents through the PACT program, I am excited to kick off 2023 by delivering the same kind of critical improvements for hundreds more in Upper Manhattan,” said New York City Mayor Adams. “Thanks to the PACT program, nearly 900 New Yorkers will have their apartments fully renovated with enhanced building infrastructure, amenities, and community space, along with critical safety upgrades. And with a highly capable M/WBE-led development team, we are demonstrating how uplifting NYCHA residents can be a win-win for our communities.”
“The PACT program continues to deliver real repairs for NYCHA residents. Almost 900 New Yorkers will soon have homes they can be proud of with $138 million coming to their developments,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “We put NYCHA first in our city’s housing blueprint, Housing Our Neighbors, as a promise to finally bring long overdue funding and solutions to public housing, and PACT is an excellent tool that helps thousands of New Yorkers finally get the housing quality they deserve.”
“Time and again, public housing residents across New York City express a desire to live in clean, safe, and supportive communities,” said NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt. “The capital resources and community services unlocked through the PACT program enable us to fulfill the quality-of-life needs reported by NYCHA residents and fully rehabilitate developments that have been starved of support for decades.”
“The closing of financing to modernize Audubon Houses, Bethune Gardens, and Marshall Plaza was truly a team effort, reflecting the passion and dedication of NYCHA residents, our partners at the Housing Development Corporation, the minority- and women-owned business entities who will renovate these campuses, and our staff,” said NYCHA Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development Jonathan Gouveia. “We look forward to seeing the improvements we envisioned come to fruition.”
“This latest financing will result in extensive improvements benefiting more than 850 residents across the Audubon Houses, Bethune Gardens, and Marshall Plaza NYCHA campuses,” said HDC President Eric Enderlin. “HDC is proud to join NYCHA and all our partners as we work together to bring essential capital improvements to NYCHA buildings, while also ensuring guaranteed affordability and tenant protections for our public housing residents under PACT.”
“Residents at Audubon are really looking forward to all of the improvements that will be made,” said Audubon Houses Tenant Association President Wanda Moret.
“We can’t wait to have a beautiful, safe building,” said Bethune Gardens Tenant Association President Seferina Acosta Castillo.
“I am looking forward to working with the new management company and improved social services programs for the community and seniors,” said Marshall Plaza Tenant Association President Betty Simmons.
“We are proud to be an all-MBE firm leading the PACT project at Audubon Houses, Bethune Gardens and Marshall Plaza (ABM). NYCHA has recognized the capacity of an emerging, minority-owned business to deliver on the vision that was crafted by the residents of the community,” said Dantes Partners Founder and CEO Buwa Binitie. “Our team has spent three rewarding, productive years getting to know ABM’s residents and connecting to the greater community. Despite the pandemic, everyone has remained steadfast in achieving this major milestone. This has been a labor of love, reflected by the spirit and commitment of everyone involved. We are eager to fulfil the promise we have made to this historic community and its residents.”
The development team selected for the renovation of Audubon Houses, Bethune Gardens, and Marshall Plaza is a consortium of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) teams comprising Dantes Partners, Apex Building Group, Pyramid ETC Companies, and Faria Management. Dantes Partners is a certified Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE) headed by Managing Principal Buwa Binitie and Chief Operating Officer Corey Powell. Apex Building Group – which will serve as the general contractor on the project – is also a MBE. Another MBE firm – Faria Management – will serve as the property manager. The team has worked on a number of public housing redevelopment projects in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The organization selected to provide enhanced social services and community programming for building residents is Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, a community nonprofit that operates several senior centers, teen centers, special needs centers, and after-school programs throughout the Bronx and Manhattan. MMCC will continue the process of assessing service needs of residents and structuring the delivery of wraparound services. Currently planned services include on-site case management to link residents to resources, after-school programming, job readiness and workforce services, senior services and programs along with monthly community events and programs. Community centers will also be rehabilitated at the three campuses to support this work.
NYCHA began the initial round of resident engagement in June 2019, while the development team started their engagement process the following year. This process entailed virtual and in-person town halls outlining the rights and responsibilities available to residents at the three campuses as well as several presentations on the landscape and building improvements being developed.
Located on Amsterdam Avenue between West 154 Street and West 155 Street in Upper Manhattan, Audubon Houses has a population of 441 residents. Eighteen percent of those residents are over the age of 62, while 31 percent of the population is under the age of 18. The grounds of this development (along with Bethune Gardens and Marshall Plaza) will be tailored to the needs of the building’s population.
Bethune Gardens is located on Amsterdam Avenue between West 156 Street and West 157 Street. The development has been in operation for more than 54 years and has a population of 238 residents – of which 96 percent are seniors over the age of 62.
Marshall Plaza was built in 1986 and is home to 183 residents. The development also has a predominantly senior population – with 98 percent of resident over the age of 62. The development – like Audubon Houses and Bethune Gardens – will receive a host of infrastructure improvements under the rehabilitation plan. These improvements include new lighting and electrical panels to prevent electricity surges, and a new trash compactor to improve waste management at the development. In addition to these improvements, Marshall Plaza will also receive a new heating and cooling system operated through variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology and metal over-cladding to protect the outer cover of the building and retain overall heat.
All sites will have features to address the safety and security concerns of residents, namely the installation of new security cameras to increase tenant safety and a new Virtual Doorman intercom system to allow for easy identification of visitors to the development.
The PACT program is New York City’s implementation of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which has spurred construction investment at public housing authorities nationwide. The PACT program is designed to ensure that the homes of NYCHA residents are permanently affordable by maintaining public control of converted developments. Residents who transition to the Section 8-based PACT program will continue to pay 30 percent of their adjusted gross household income towards rent and have the right to renew their lease and call for grievance hearings. NYCHA continues to monitor conditions at PACT developments after conversion.