The USGBC recognized Melrose Commons with Stage II LEED for Neighborhood Development certification, the first in New York State.

Melrose Commons is a 30-block Urban Renewal Area anchored around Melrose Avenue and East 161st Street in the Bronx. Working with a locally-based community organization, Nos Quedamos, Magnusson Architecture and Planning, (MAP) provided planning and technical assistance to craft a plan that reflected the community’s vision for its revitalization and sustainable future development. This plan was officially adopted by the New York City Planning Commission in 1994, and over the past decade more than 2,000 units of affordable housing have been developed within the Urban Renewal Area boundary, along with community and retail space. MAP has designed a series of new buildings on separate sites and continues to work in the neighborhood. In each new development we collaborate with funding organizations and city agencies to promote the highest feasible environmental and design standards.


This dramatically successful and on-going 15-year neighborhood revitalization is now part of the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Pilot Program. As developed by the USGBC, the Congress for New Urbanism, and the National Resources Defense Council, the LEED-ND Rating System integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national standard for neighborhood design. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development’s location and design meet accepted high standards for environmentally responsible development.


Through the LEED-ND Pilot Program, MAP has helped to document what’s been accomplished in Melrose Commons and to promote sustainable infill development as a strategy for neighborhood preservation and revitalization. In February 2010, Melrose Commons became the first project in New York State to receive Stage II LEED-ND certification, at the Silver level. We hope that this achievement will not only raise awareness of what has been accomplished in the South Bronx, but also increase public confidence in the sustainable redevelopment of other urban neighborhoods across the country.


One of MAP’s most recent new buildings within Melrose Commons, El Jardin de Selene, is also on track to achieve Gold Certification under the LEED for New Construction program. The 12-story building, among the tallest in the area, is a mixed-use, affordable housing development located on the corner of Melrose Avenue and East 158th Street. Its brick and cast stone façade serves as a reminder of the rich architectural heritage of the Bronx, with art deco elements incorporated into the design. The new tower provides 84 rental units in an array of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.  Residents have access to over 2,000 square feet of community space, including a laundry room and an outdoor courtyard at the second level. The building also includes 6,000 square feet of commercial space and over 12,000 square feet of parking.


In addition to pursuing LEED Certification, El Jardin de Selene was designed to be NYSERDA Energy Star certified and Enterprise Green Communities compliant. Meeting these stringent requirements will be achieved through a variety of sustainable elements including daylight and occupancy sensors in common areas, energy star fixtures and appliances, bamboo flooring, green roof at 9th Floor setbacks, high-performance windows, thru-wall ventilation and solar panels on the building’s roof.