Brooklyn, NY – July 13, 2010 — Bridge Street Development Corporation (BSDC) has taken the first step in creating Bedford Stuyvesant’s sustainable future, with the unveiling of the newly renovated and rehabilitated 300 Putnam Avenue — aka Joshua Court — and its new solar-panel enhancements, it was announced by Rhonda A. Lewis, BSDC President & Chief Executive Officer, at a press conference and public reception during the grand opening of the six-story/52-unit residence, Tuesday, July 13, 2010 in Brooklyn, New York.
“We are pleased to play a role in the transformation of lives and the improvement of the quality of life for all of the residents on this block,” said Ms. Lewis. “When BSDC took over the building in September of 2006, the residents had no heat, hot water or cooking gas for an entire year. The elevator and the trash incinerator did not work. The 300 Putnam Avenue tenants and their neighbors on the block often felt anxious, distressed and voiceless. The building was a major source of blight, and reduced the overall quality of life for homeowners on the block. Today, Joshua Court has emerged proudly like a phoenix rising from the ash — as the first multifamily building in Bedford Stuyvesant to have rooftop solar panels.”
Among the event’s distinguished speakers were City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Borough President Marty Markowitz who presented a Proclamation; City Councilman Al Vann; representatives for United States Senator Charles E. Schumer and New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery; Michael Lappin, President and CEO of the Community Preservation Corporation; Vincent McDonnell of Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Marilyn Gelber, President, Brooklyn Community Foundation; Block Association president Charles McVey and, at the ribbon cutting, young Joshua McCaw. Also, Monique Greenwood, owner of Akwaaba Mansion was the Mistress of Ceremonies.
“I am thrilled to see this building and residents have a second chance at life,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Today’s announcement marks another great step forward in providing New Yorkers with more solutions for affordable housing. As families continue to struggle during this economic downturn, we realize that the City’s housing options can seem daunting and incredibly out of reach. With preservation projects, like Joshua Court, we’re proud to witness the transfer of a troubled, neglected property to responsible ownership that is overseeing its rehabilitation into a clean, safe, and stable energy-efficient building, giving residents a place to call home.
“I also am proud to say the Council provided $3.5 million for Joshua Court, which has transformed into a beautiful, green residential building. I want to thank Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, HUD Deputy Regional Administrator, JoAnna Aniello and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. I look forward to working with them on ensuring that all recipients of Council funding will rehabilitate properties that will be as impressive a turnaround as Joshua Court.”
In remarks released earlier, New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery – a strong supporter of the project, said, “Joshua Court is more than a building, it is more than a renovation. It is a symbol of community revitalization, and the positive, life-transforming results that ensue when village stakeholders work together to build where they live. Joshua Court’s rite of passage has fostered a rebirth of strong partnerships between a building, a people, community, agencies, and a block — all the connectors that make for a strong foundation for the neighborhood and the city.”
Construction financing of $8,332,968 and permanent financing of $5,679,385 for this ambitious project was provided by The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a not-for-profit mortgage lender that finances residential multi-family development throughout NY, NJ and CT, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Pension Funds.
Additionally, the project received Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits with National Equity Fund (NEF) as the investor. The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) will insure the permanent loan.
“Transforming this once-deteriorated apartment complex not only into a beautiful place for families to call home, but into an environmentally-friendly and economically-sensible building is no small feat and we applaud Bridge Street Development Corporation for this tremendous undertaking,” said Michael Lappin, CPC’s President & CEO. “We are proud to work once again with HPD to make this project a reality and we look forward to continuing our mission of providing affordable housing options to New York City’s families.”
“In undertaking the stabilization and revitalization of 300 Putnam Avenue, the Bridge St. Development Corp did not choose the easy path,” said Vincent McDonnell of LISC. “This project — involving the turn-around of an extremely distressed building — presented a high degree of risk, and the route to the finish line was far from clear at the outset. The project ended up setting a new precedent for the preservation of other distressed HUD-assisted properties, when it became the first such property to be purchased at a HUD foreclosure auction directly by a local nonprofit via a restricted-bid process. LISC NYC is proud to have helped BSDC preserve this important community housing asset.”
Joshua Court boasts beautifully-appointed renovated units, from studios to four-bedroom apartments with hardwood floors; a green garden oasis; underground parking and other amenities. Overall the green installations will reduce building utility costs and offer tenants more effective and efficient use of their spaces as well as an opportunity to be environmentally responsible.
An abstract limestone sculpture by artist Bradford Graves and donated by JPMorgan Chase enhances the garden space. A Japanese gazebo and drought-resistant plants also dress the Joshua Court garden and reflect the building’s eco-friendly theme. In addition to the solar paneling, the building’s other green features include: Energy Star-Related appliances, energy-conserving motion-activated lighting, energy-efficient windows and air conditioners. Apartment features include all-new kitchen appliances, tiled bathrooms, and ample closet space. A community room outfitted with state of the art computers is located in the basement.
“Children who have lived with their families in the building before this transformation, will now experience an environment which nurtures their curiosity, enhances their knowledge about sustainability and gives them a vibrant place to call home,” said block association president Charles McVey.
During the Q&A, Ms. Lewis noted that the rent at 300 Joshua Court on Putnam is 30% of income, regardless of family and apartment size. About half of the apartments were vacant, so BSDC advertised for new tenants, she said.
Other project sponsors included: Housing and Urban Development; NYC Dept. Housing Preservation and Development; Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); JPMorgan Chase; The Home Depot, The Doolittle Foundation, Citi, and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation-WAP.
The project partners were: P&P Contracting Inc., RCGA Architects, Michael McCaw Architects, Linda Lindsay’s Design Schemes, Wavecrest Management and Natures Finest.