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Chelsea Now: Work Begins on Long-Awaited Affordable Housing Project at Fulton

May 10, 2017

By DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
May 10, 2017

Construction started last week on a 160-unit, 18-story building — that will be 100 percent permanent affordable housing — on the grounds of NYCHA’s Robert Fulton Houses.

The around $77.8 million development project has been 12 years in the making, and a groundbreaking ceremony took place on Thurs., May 4. The approximately 11,000-square-foot site — at 413 W. 18th St., between Ninth and 10th Aves. — was once home to a trash compactor and a parking lot.

The building includes studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units, with apartments affordable for an individual earning $33,400 and from $42,950 for a family of three. The building will also have a landscaped rooftop, outdoor recreational areas for resident use, and an about 8,000-square-foot community facility space, according to a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) press release.

Miguel Acevedo is the president of the Fulton Houses Tenants’ Association, and said that he has been involved since the project’s 2005 announcement, “to make sure it’s 100 percent affordable housing — especially since it is on New York City Housing Authority land.”

In a Mon., May 8 phone interview with Chelsea Now, Acevedo said the project took so long because it was difficult to nail down financing. The city issued a request for proposals in December 2006, and Artimus Construction was awarded the Fulton Houses and Elliott-Chelsea sites in 2007, according to the release. The Elliot-Chelsea — a 168-unit, 22-story mixed-use building — at 401 W. 25th St. near Ninth Ave. was completed in December 2011, according to Artimus’ website.

The 2008 Financial Crisis delayed a number of projects — that are a collaboration between NYCHA and the city’s Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) — that included Elliott-Chelsea, the Fulton Houses, and Harborview Terrace, Jasmine Blake, deputy press secretary for the Department of Communications, said in an email. The commitment to affordable housing was made under the Bloomberg administration as part of the West Chelsea rezoning, according to news reports.

According to Acevedo, some funding — $4.6 million — for the project came as part of a deal in late 2012 when developer Jamestown Properties asked to construct two office towers on top of the Chelsea Market. Jamestown created the affordable housing fund and “that money was directed to this building to help its finances,” he said. But Blake said that ultimately the Chelsea Market trust was not used in the project.

The total development cost for the project is around $77.8 million, with HPD providing $26.97 million in capital reserves, $10.74 million from corporate reserves, and the city’s Housing Development Corporation providing $30.03 million in bonds, according to the release. JPMorgan Chase will provide a letter of credit, and NYCHA will retain ownership of the land. It will provide a 99-year lease to the developer, according to the release. The remaining balance of funding sources included developer equity, deferred interest, and a NYCHA lessor’s note, according to Blake.

NYCHA residents will be given preference for 25 percent of the units with the rest of the apartments made available through HPD’s lottery. “It gives professionals like teachers, police officers [and] firemen the opportunity to live in this building,” Acevedo said.

Artimus has worked closely with the community, which has been involved since day one, he said. The developer hired a Fulton Houses resident to be the forewoman of the laborers, Acevedo said. Artimus is also paying for the renovation of a basketball court and playground at the complex, he said.

Acevedo pointed to the efforts of Community Board 4 (CB4) member Joe Restuccia, “who oversaw this whole project and made it happen,” and City Councilmember Corey Johnson who made sure that the project happened sooner rather that later.

“If there are two things we need more of in Chelsea, it’s affordable housing and improvements to our open spaces,” City Councilmember Corey Johnson said in an email statement to Chelsea Now. “This development is bringing both. Permanently affordable developments like this are exactly what we need to solve our city’s housing crisis and make New York a place where all people can afford to raise a family.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said in the release, “For the families that will soon call Chelsea home, particularly those who have spent years on NYCHA waiting lists, these units represent an opportunity to build a better life.”

CB4 Chair Delores Rubin said in the release the board was “proud to have worked alongside our local elected officials, the residents of Fulton Houses, NYCHA, HPD, Artimus Construction and other stakeholders culminating in this milestone project.”

Rubin noted how the board has been a “longtime advocate for affordable housing” and is “thrilled that as a result of our advocacy and the West Chelsea rezoning negotiations to see this administration fulfill its commitment to deliver permanent affordable housing” at Fulton.

“Chelsea has been gentrified so much as of late,” Acevedo told this publication, “with such little affordable housing being built — especially 100 percent affordable housing building. This building is so important to me — it gives the next generation the opportunity to live where they were born and raised.”

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