Ascendant Neighborhood Development and co-developers, The Community Builders (TCB), will develop the site located at 413 East 120th Street, to be known as The Beacon. The East Harlem Multi-Service Center site will give rise to an affordable 250-home residential building, of which 75 homes or 30 percent will be set aside for households that have experienced homelessness. The new residential building will be constructed at the back of the existing East Harlem Multi-Service Center, which will be rehabilitated and expanded. The original architecture of the multi-service center will be preserved and include additional space for after-school programming, a new atrium, green space, and the “Wagner Walk” walk path connecting the residential building to the multi-service facility. The renovated facility will continue to host the nonprofit organizations serving East Harlem.
“At TCB we pride ourselves on building and sustaining strong communities where all people can thrive,” said Desiree Andrepont, Senior Project Manager at The Community Builders. “It is a privilege to partner with Ascendant Neighborhood Development Corporation and bring together the East Harlem community with this exciting project. The transformation of the Multi Service Center will create a collaborative space to unite neighborhood leaders, local organizations and the greater community, and the development will provide much-needed affordable housing for generations to come”.
The City selected developers and their winning proposals from the competitive East Harlem RFP released in 2019, which sought plans to redevelop two sites that include affordable housing alongside retail and community services.
“For over thirty years, Ascendant has worked with our partners and allies to preserve, protect, and celebrate the unique history and heritage of East Harlem,” said Chris Cirillo, Executive Director at Ascendant Neighborhood Development Corporation. “We are profoundly grateful to have the opportunity to re-envision the Multi-Service Center as a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive 21st century community hub. We look forward to working with community members, Wagner Houses residents, Multi-Service Center tenants, Community Board 11, Council Member Ayala, and all of the other stakeholders who have helped to shape the vision for this site and the broader neighborhood.”
East Harlem Rezoning Context
In 2017, the New York City Council approved the East Harlem rezoning to identify opportunities to create new mixed-income housing and preserve existing affordable housing. The East Harlem Rezoning builds on recommendations of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan (EHNP), developed through a comprehensive community planning process and led by a committee of local stakeholders including former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Community Board 11 and Community Voices Heard. After a series of community meetings, the EHNP was issued with 232 recommendations for addressing key neighborhood issues. In addition to authorizing the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program for East Harlem, the rezoning creates opportunities for economic development while preserving the community’s existing commercial and manufacturing uses.
Our long-standing commitment to affordable housing and preservation has produced focused efforts to collaborate with East Harlem NYCHA residents. With generous funding from Enterprise Community Partners, and using the dynamic East Harlem Neighborhood Plan as a starting point, the Northern Manhattan Collaborative (NMC), led by Ascendant and working with Hester Street Collaborative, assessed several NMC-owned and publicly-owned sites in East Harlem as potential locations for affordable housing development and other needed non-residential uses called out in the EHNP recommendations. The study produced not only several in-depth analyses of specific sites, but also a strategy for creating more connection among existing buildings and spaces in the neighborhood.
The resulting report, titled “Public Sites for Public Good“, details a vision for leveraging the neighborhood’s affordable housing opportunities to address community-identified needs with special attention to city-owned property. View the full report, available in English or Spanish, here.
We are humbled to have been chosen to take on this important project. Ascendant is thrilled to be teaming up with The Community Builders to build 250 more truly-affordable homes in East Harlem, as well as provide meaningful and needed, community-centered neighborhood services to our East Harlem community.
Official NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development Designation Press Release (August 2021)
Forthcoming – excerpt from AND and TCB’s RFP response (November 2019)
East Harlem RFP – Multi-service Center and NYPD Parking Lot (August 2019)
East Harlem RFP Community Visioning Summary Report (July 2019)
Community Board 11 Recommendations for POA sites (June 2019)
Public Sites for Public Good report (April 2019)
East Harlem Request for Proposals (RFP) Workshop Presentation (April 2019)
East Harlem Points of Agreement (POA) (November 2017)
East Harlem Neighborhood Plan (February 2016)
In February 2018, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced the designation of AND and MDG Design + Construction (MDG) as one of nine development teams to build 490 affordable homes on 87 vacant lots through HPD’s New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP) and Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP). AND and MDG will work together to build four 100% affordable rental buildings on small City-owned lots, resulting in 83 new apartments in East Harlem.
The NIHOP/NCP programs encourage capacity development among smaller developers with a particular focus on local non-profits, and support the construction of affordable rental apartments and new homeownership opportunities.
Development teams in the first two rounds of designations include eight non-profit community-based organizations, and teams from the first two rounds have already spurred the construction of over 600 affordable homes on 81 lots across the five boroughs.
More than two-thirds of the development teams chosen for all three rounds included a nonprofit team member, either via joint venture or as the sole entity. Both AND and MDG are proud to participate in the NCP program, and are excited to get started on building more quality, affordable homes in Northern Manhattan.
In addition to affordable housing, Las Raices will create over 9,000 SF of community facility space between two buildings. Each space will be spacious, modern, and provide a flexible floor layout to accommodate local preferences at the time of lease up.
Links: HPD Development Team Selection Announcement ; CB11 presentation
In June 2017, AND, MDG Design + Construction (MDG), the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) announced the closing of the Ascendant Heritage Apartments, a $34 million project to rehabilitate 359 apartments and six commercial spaces across 21 buildings in the AND portfolio.
The Ascendant Heritage Apartments are four, five, and six-story apartment buildings serving low- and very low- income residents. AND acquired the properties from the City of New York and private owners in the 1990s, and rehabilitated them through a variety of city and state affordable housing programs.
After years of use, these buildings required a new round of renovations to make them more comfortable, functional, sustainable, and resilient to climate change. We have also restructured and refinanced the buildings to ensure the long-term affordability of these homes.
The rehabilitation, which was completed in 2020, did not require our residents to relocate or their rents to increase. The renovations include new roofs, windows, and kitchens; energy efficient boilers; upgrades to entryways, lobbies, and public hallways; new intercom and key fob entry systems; and façade repairs.
As part of the renovation strategy, we evaluated opportunities to employ solar technology to take advantage of its cost-saving potential and environmental benefits. AND, with the help of Solar One, installed 197 kilowatts-DC of solar capacity across four of the largest buildings, generating approximately 236,840 kwh per year — enough to offset common area electricity usage in those buildings and several others in the Ascendant Heritage cluster.
AND will be able to save over $100,000 in energy costs over the next 25 years, which can fund improvements throughout our portfolio while advancing AND’s commitment to environmental sustainability and community development.
In August 2021, Affordable Housing Finance Magazine nominated Ascendant Heritage for it’s 2021 Reader’s Choice Award for Best in Preservation. Thanks to our amazing supporters, we won! The project was featured in their July/August 2021 issue.
Links: AHF Magazine Best in Preservation Award