Mayor de Blasio Joins Dunn Development, Arts East New York and Partners to Break Ground on Livonia Commons

April 7, 2014

Video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibBLG4nFq-Q

Newest development builds on agenda to confront inequality, including expanding paid sick leave, securing more affordable housing and living wage jobs

Phase I will include the construction of four buildings on vacant, formerly city-owned land with a combined total of 278 new units of affordable housing

City announces Request for Proposals for Phase II of the Livonia Avenue Initiative to create 225 new affordable apartments

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today joined developers and community partners to break ground on Livonia Commons, the first phase of a major new multi-phase project in East New York, the Livonia Avenue Initiative, that will create more affordable housing, local jobs and space for community organizations to grow. The Livonia Avenue Initiative will create a total of nearly 791 affordable apartments when all phases are complete.

Livonia Commons is a 278-unit project by Dunn Development Corporation and will be ready for occupancy in December 2016. The project will be 100 percent affordable, with units set aside for people with disabilities and transitioning out of the city’s shelter system. An agreement with The Boys’ Club of New York will also create the organization’s first location in Brooklyn, and will provide youth programming and facilities for the community’s young men and women. The development will be located along Livonia Avenue between Pennsylvania Avenue and Hinsdale Street in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The multi-phase project is one more piece of the administration’s broader agenda to lift up working families and overcome economic inequality. From securing more affordable housing at developments like Domino in Brooklyn, to including 1,650 more workers at the Hudson Yards development under living wage protections and beginning citywide implementation of the Living Wage Law, to expanding paid sick leave to cover more than 500,000 more New Yorkers, the administration has made real, tangible progress lifting up struggling New Yorkers.

Mayor de Blasio also announced today that the city is releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Phase II of the Livonia Avenue Initiative, which calls for 225 new affordable apartments as well as new commercial and/or community space. The significant amount of affordable housing is consistent with Mayor de Blasio’s objective of building and preserving 200,000 affordable units in the coming decade.

“For decades these vacant lots have been a blight on this neighborhood. Today, we’re breaking ground on a project that will deliver the affordable housing, good local jobs and vital services this community needs. We believe in a city where every neighborhood rises together, and where we make investments that give more people a shot at a better life. Today’s news is big for East New York—but it represents exactly the kinds of approaches we want to see in every community. Projects like this are critical steps toward our commitment to build and preserve 200,000 affordable apartments,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“As we work to build safe and fair communities across New York State, transformative projects like Livonia Commons will successfully fulfill that vision,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “We are proud to partner with Mayor de Blasio and nonprofit housing and social services partners to bring hundreds of affordable apartments and other critical services to East New York, including investment in homeless and supportive housing, as well as youth and arts programming that are revitalizing this community.”

“What’s most important about this project is that it’s going to knit together this community—not just build on top of it. We’re providing affordable homes, spurring good jobs for local workers and creating space so community groups that serve East New York can grow and thrive. We want to thank the developer, our city agencies and our state partners for helping get shovels in the ground,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

“Our housing plan will ensure that we build not just homes, but neighborhoods,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “The phased redevelopment of the Livonia corridor is the culmination of a comprehensive, thoughtful and strategic planning process to heal the scars of blight and transform the corridor into a vibrant, mixed-use area. With our partners, we are providing both affordable housing and better opportunities to all New Yorkers by tying this housing to jobs, social services offered by community organizations, and cultural offerings.”

“This plan is already bringing new life to this underused commercial corridor and is keeping with important tenets of the Mayor’s plan to build or preserve 200,000 units over the next decade,” said HDC President Gary Rodney. “Livonia Commons is built on formerly city-owned land, it is affordable to low-income individuals and families, and it provides homes for those who are homeless or have special needs. I am proud of the fact that HDC is an indispensable player on the team that makes developments such as this one possible.”

“As a longtime resident of this community, I know the need for the kind of inspired and varied development that Dunn Development is bringing to East New York. We at HCR were proud to bring the tax-credit resources to build economic and housing successes to drive the resurgence of East New York. New York State will continue to be there for East New York as the neighborhood continues to thrive and build on its strong history of community involvement,” said HCR Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns.

“Dunn Development Corp. is thrilled to have broken ground on this exciting new project as part of Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious housing agenda. Livonia Commons will help revitalize the Livonia Avenue corridor with a dynamic mix of new affordable housing, retail stores and community spaces,” said Martin Dunn, President of Dunn Development Corp. “Working with our community partners, we'll build the kind of innovative and holistic development that the East New York community deserves."

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio and his administration for undertaking this next great milestone in the development of Brooklyn's future. East New York is a neighborhood filled with potential, and Livonia Avenue is primed to be a vibrant corridor of mixed use activity. I am further excited to welcome the Boys’ Club of New York to our borough, recognizing the critical value their youth programming will bring to this community. As we look to expand opportunity to every corner of Brooklyn, I look forward to partnering on future projects such as these that increase affordable housing and stimulate our local economy,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“ARTs East New York Inc. is committed to presenting and promoting multicultural arts to address socio-economic issues that hinder the growth and development of our community. We are excited to participate in the Livonia Commons project to expand our innovative efforts to foster entrepreneurs and cultural industries that generate jobs and income, reduce crime and recidivism, heighten the level of education and awareness around healthy and sustainable living, attract tourists to boost our local economy and instill pride amongst our residents,” said Catherine A. Green, Executive Director and Founder of ARTs East New York.

“We are excited to be part of the Livonia Avenue redevelopment initiative and privileged to have the opportunity to become part of the East New York community. A Boys’ Club in East New York is a natural extension of our mission to empower boys and young men, and we are working hard to raise the funds necessary to construct a state of the art facility that will serve the neighborhood for years to come,” said Stephen Tosh, Executive Director of The Boys’ Club of New York.

Units in the project’s first phase will be affordable to families earning a range of incomes from 40 to 60 percent of the Area Median Income, serving individuals earning approximately $24,000 per year to families of 4 earning up to $51,000 per year.

Fifty-one of Livonia Common’s overall 278 units of housing will be set aside for special needs and/or homeless populations. These units will be filled by referrals from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS). Residents of these units will be expected to pay 30 percent of their monthly income towards rent. The balance of the rent will be subsidized by the OPWDD or the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) under the NY/NY III program. Formerly homeless residents will receive onsite supportive services from CAMBA, Inc., which expects to provide case management, counseling, and job training opportunities. CAMBA is a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization that offers more than 150 integrated services and programs in economic development, education and youth development, family support, health, housing and legal services.

The ground floor of the new building at 481 Williams Avenue will be occupied by ARTs East New York, a community-based arts organization created by a resident of the community in 2009. The space will feature visual arts classrooms, a dance studio, office space and other uses. The organization’s work centers around three components: arts education, community beautification, and special events. ARTs East New York offers affordable art classes, art exhibits and mural projects, and free music and dance performance events in the summer. In its first four years, ARTs East New York has served 200 students and hosted over 25 free community arts events and exhibitions.

All of the buildings at Livonia Commons will feature a landscaped garden and children’s play area in the rear yard. Each building will have a two-bedroom unit reserved for an on-site superintendent and also feature a ground floor retail space or community office space that will be occupied by project partners. As with all new affordable housing construction and substantial renovation projects funded by the City of New York, Livonia Commons will adhere to the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, the only national green building criteria designed for affordable housing.

Recognizing the severe shortage of youth programming and facilities in the East New York community, The Boys’ Club of New York will build its first Brooklyn facility at Livonia Commons. Located at Livonia Avenue between Williams Avenue and Hinsdale Street, the BCNY Livonia Avenue Community Facility will be the organization’s fourth in the City and is planned at approximately 50,000 to 60,000 square-feet. The new clubhouse will provide a range of youth programs in the arts, music, athletics, and academics and leadership support for boys aged 6-20 and girls aged 13-20. Developing this clubhouse as part of a larger mixed-use complex of affordable and supportive housing, retail and public space will contribute to the transformation of the heart of East New York.

The total development cost for Livonia Commons is approximately $90 million. The City of New York collaborated with New York State Homes and Community Renewal to help finance the residential buildings, which under the direction of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, allocated $4.7 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits for the project. HPD will provide low-income housing tax credits and a combined total investment of roughly $14 million in city capital, 421a and HOME funds. HDC will provide variable rate tax-exempt short term bonds toward construction financing in the amount of $44 million and fixed-rate tax-exempt long term bonds towards permanent financing in the amount of $11.3 million. HDC will also provide $18 million in additional subsidy. J.P. Morgan Capital Corporation will act as tax credit investor and provide the letter of credit.

The RFP for Phase II covers four land parcels located on Livonia Avenue, bordered by Van Sinderen Avenue and Williams Avenue. The Phase II RFP is seeking developers to build approximately 225 new units of affordable housing as well as new commercial or community space. The RFP submission period runs from today, April 7, 2014 through July 11, 2014.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the RFP, please visit HPD’s website at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/developers/rfp.shtml

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