high rise residential

The Peninsula is on the Horizon

By EZRA WOLFGANG

Plans for a new residential and commercial complex on the site of the old Spofford detention center include 740 new units of affordable housing, half of which will be set aside for local residents.

The public meeting, which was organized by The Point and the project’s developers, was held at the Hunts Point Recreation Center on Sept. 14 to discuss updates related to The Peninsula project, the new name for the development that will rise on the site at the intersection of Spofford Avenue, Tiffany Street and Manida Street.

According to the developers, The Peninsula’s apartments will range from studio to four bedrooms. All of the units are for residents earning 30 to 90 percent of the Average Median Income (AMI) for New York City, which is currently $85,900, according to the city’s housing agency. Eighty percent of the units will be reserved for residents earning at or below 60 percent AMI. Fifty percent of the new apartments will be reserved for residents of Hunts Point and Longwood – no one outside of the neighborhood will be able to receive an apartment until half are filled by local residents.

“The city takes this very seriously,” said Aaron Koffman, a representative of the developer, to an audience of residents. “This is not just about local hiring, but this is about benefitting the neighborhood and the community in which this project is being built.” Koffman represents The Hudson Companies Inc.; also attending the meeting were Ismene Speliotis from Mutual Housing Association for NY, Toby Sheppard Bloch from The Hope Program and Maria Torres from The Point.

The rent schedule ranges from $396 for a studio apartment for a resident earning 30 percent AMI, to $2,214 for a four bedroom for a family earning 90 percent AMI. According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, the average monthly rent in the Bronx for 2016 was $913; 40 percent of The Peninsula’s rent schedules displayed at the meeting fall below that amount.

Gregory Martin, a neighborhood resident who grew up and lives on Manida Street with his family, is pleased that the project is commencing, and hopes to get an apartment there. “That would definitely make the appearance around here a lot better,” he said. “If we’d be able to get in, it would really be nice.”

Ten percent of apartment units will be reserved for homeless families. It was reported earlier this year by The Hunts Point Express that this amount was met with resistance by some Board 2 members. However, Thursday’s meeting indicated a change of mind.

“The new term sheet requires deeper affordability, so we’re getting more units at different incomes,” Koffman said. “That’s better affordable housing.”

The admissions process for the 740 apartments will be via lottery. The basic rules entail that once the lottery is announced, residents must request an application (one per household), and respond immediately when contacted. The developers said some preferences may go to members of the NYPD, other City of New York employees, and disabled residents.

Speliotis confirmed that 5 percent of apartments will be reserved for the mobility-impaired, and that 2 percent will be reserved for the visual and hearing impaired. “Those apartments are leased first,” she said. “Those people don’t have to come from Hunts Point. Their mobility, hearing or visual impairment prioritizes them for the apartments.”

Members of Community Board 2 said they hope The Peninsula will not only provide more affordable housing for the neighborhood’s residents, but will also stimulate the local economy. The complex has already contacted several Bronx-based businesses, including Hunts Point Brewing, The Point CDC, Lightbox-NY, and Spring Bank. These businesses will mostly comprise one building of the project. The board said it hoped developers would aim for 30 percent minority and women-owned businesses, and the developers agreed.

“We put that on ourselves,” Koffman explained. “We think that that’s important.”

The project is anticipated to be set in motion in 2017 and completed by 2024. The total cost is expected to be over $300 million. Torres, who serves on Board 2’s Economic and Municipal Services Committee, is optimistic that The Peninsula will be finished and open on time.
“You’ve got to go in looking that way,” she said. “Certain things have been pushed back, because of the city, or just in general terms. But right now, we readjusted, we’re looking at maybe a spring 2018 demo, and keep it moving from there.”

Speliotis is also hopeful that the project will be a success upon its expected completion date. “When we come back in 2025, and…. [we ask] how many people got apartments, and all these people are going to raise their hands,” she said. “That’s my goal, it’s our goal.”


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