November 29, 2002
With Change in Plans, Apartments Now Rise

A 77-unit apartment building now rising in Harlem is on a different schedule than its developers had originally expected, and it is a co-op rather than the rental they had planned.

When the Richman Group and the Gotham Organization formed a joint venture in 1999 to build residential projects on city-owned land, the city awarded the partners two sites in Harlem. The site they decided to develop first was at 145th Street between Edgecombe and Bradhurst Avenues, opposite Jackie Robinson Park. They then applied for a $3.2 million grant from the Manhattan borough president's capital budget.

Such requests are usually granted when the purpose is to lower the cost of construction and when the grant money is likely to make apartments or houses more affordable. But the Richman-Gotham request was turned down because during the spring of last year there was not enough money available in the capital budget of C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president. So the developers put both projects on hold.

Now, however, the Hamilton, an eight-story building, is under construction by Richman-Gotham, and is expected to be completed by next spring. The buyers for all but one of its 77 apartments (one will be reserved for the on-site superintendent) will be selected in a lottery.

Why the turnabout? In March, Ms. Fields unexpectedly discovered money in her capital budget that had been allocated for other developments, one of which fell through.

Lee Chong, the director of the land use, housing and development unit in Ms. Fields's office, offered the developers $1.3 million on condition that they build co-ops instead of rental units. That condition grew out of Ms. Fields's longtime advocacy of homeownership in New York, Ms. Chong said.

"When the developers ran the numbers," she added, "they decided it made sense financially and from a community viewpoint."

In addition, Citibank provided a $14.8 million construction loan, the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development provided the land and the New York City Housing Development Corporation is making $6.1 million available for construction and permanent loan financing.

The building will have one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Seven will be penthouses, five with wraparound terraces, ranging in size from 635 square feet to 1,190 square feet. The apartments will sell for $128,000 to $303,000.

To qualify, households must have incomes of $52,000 to $157,000, assuming a 5 percent down payment. The prices and income ranges are estimated and subject to change.

All apartments will have stainless-steel sinks and refrigerators, dishwashers, gas ranges and microwaves; wood parquet floors; an audio/video intercom and security system; floor-to-ceiling windows; and wiring for high-speed Internet access and cable service. The building will also have indoor parking, a 24-hour attended lobby, a package room in the lobby for pickup and delivery, a fitness center and a landscaped private courtyard. The building architect is Greenberg Farrow Architecture in Manhattan.

The Hamilton will also have at least two retail tenants. Duane Reade has already signed a lease, and an unidentified retailer is expected to move in when the building is ready for occupancy.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will oversee the lottery through which the Hamilton's co-ops will be sold.

Preference will be given to New York City residents, and to current residents of Community District 9, where the Hamilton is located. Five percent of the apartments will be reserved for uniformed New York City police officers, another 5 percent will be for households that have members with impaired mobility, and 2 percent will be for occupants with impaired sight or hearing.

Applications can be obtained at the Web site , or from the Hamilton, 163 Amsterdam Avenue, No. 181, New York, N.Y. 10023. Completed applications must be postmarked by Dec. 17. Applications received after that date will be placed on a waiting list; once the lottery applications are exhausted those on the waiting list will be offered the opportunity to buy a co-op on a first-come-first-served basis.