View Full Version : Desolate Bronx lot

January 10th, 2003, 05:08 AM
Residential Real Estate Hope Rises on a Desolate Bronx Lot

A *Z-shaped lot in East Tremont that had been vacant and weed-strewn for the last dozen years is undergoing a transformation.

A 53-unit apartment building that provides services for poor single adults recently opened on a wedge of the former city-owned Bronx property, facing Crotona Avenue and East 176th Street. Diagonally facing it, a 40-bed residential treatment center for women is rising.

The women's center is expected to be finished by August, when the two projects, along with a parking lot and a small park, will complete the transformation of the property. The two residential facilities are being developed using public funds by VIP Community Services, a 30-year-old neighborhood nonprofit group.

The group, which focuses on homeless people, former substance abusers and those who either have or are at risk of contracting AIDS, runs a 27-unit supportive housing complex nearby on Clinton Avenue, as well as two shelters for women in the area. Through city housing programs and using public funds, it has also developed 400 new and renovated rental apartments in 16 buildings for people with low to moderate incomes.

Up to 30 percent of the units in each of the 16 buildings, all within a mile of one another in the central and northern Bronx, are for people with the special needs that VIP serves, said Sandra Ruiz Butter, the group's president.

The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development handed over the entire Crotona Avenue lot to VIP, and New York State's Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services provided $3.1 million to build the two-story women's residence on Fairmount Place.

Across the way at 1870 Crotona Avenue, tenants last month began moving in to Abraham Plaza, the supportive housing project. The five-story building offers furnished studios, each with its own bath and kitchenette.

Abraham Plaza is among the latest in a string of developments that are the successors to the city's old single-room-occupancy buildings. The new projects provide not only permanent housing for low-income residents, but also services like job training and drug counseling.

Albert Blanchard, who lived in a homeless shelter in Manhattan for most of last year, moved to Abraham Plaza two days before Christmas. Mr. Blanchard, 44, who is training to be a computer technician, says he revels in the privacy his apartment provides. "It was the greatest gift," he said.

The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development provided $5.1 million in financing through its supportive housing loan program to build the $6.6 million residence. The New York State Homeless Housing Assistance Program gave the remaining $1.5 million. Additional funds for tenant services came from other public and private sources.

In the 12 years since the loan program began, the city, with nonprofit groups as partners, has produced about 7,000 new and renovated permanent supportive housing units. About 2,000 additional apartments are in various stages of construction and development, said David Rouge, assistant director of the program.

Construction of residential buildings like Abraham Plaza began about five years ago when the city started to run out of city-owned apartment buildings to commit to this effort, Mr. Rouge said.

Mrs. Butter of VIP said her group received about 500 applications for the 53 apartments at Abraham Plaza and had already selected the tenants.

Sixty percent of the apartments are for former residents of the city's shelter system who are either on public assistance or have incomes of no more than $22,000 a year. Those on public assistance use their $215 monthly housing allowances toward the rent, which is $785 a month. The others pay 30 percent of their income. Subsidies from the federal government make up the difference.

The remaining units are for community residents with annual incomes of $13,144 to $26,400. Their rent is $280 a month.

Mr. Blanchard has placed cards from friends on the windowsill to personalize his apartment. "When I look at New York and see the lights," he said, "I see how blessed I am."

January 10th, 2003, 03:55 PM
They're doing something like this in Coney Island too, I think a recovery house or something on a vacant lot