Development Leads Way for Yonkers Revitalization
Schoolhouse Terrace transformed a brownfield into affordable housing for seniors and families
By Donna Kimura
Schoolhouse Terrace is the critical first phase in the redevelopment of Cottage Place Gardens, a deteriorating public housing project built in 1945 in Yonkers, N.Y.
Located on the site of a long-vacant school building, the new development transforms an urban brownfield into a 50-unit building for low-income seniors and another 70-unit building for low-income families. There is also a superintendent’s unit.
Developed by The Community Builders (TCB) and the Municipal Housing Authority of Yonkers, Schoolhouse Terrace provides replacement housing for the adjacent Cottage Place Gardens complex, which was featured in Show Me a Hero, a recent HBO mini-series that illuminated Yonkers’ public housing battles of the 1980s.
After years of attempts at revitalization, public housing residents were understandably concerned about their rights to return to the site. To offset this fear, the development team waited to demolish the existing housing units at Cottage Place Gardens until Schoolhouse Terrace was built and ready for occupancy. The move allowed residents to move just once and TCB to build important relationships with residents at the key first stage of the multi-phase project.
The team also worked to acknowledge the site’s history. Public School 6 had to be demolished, but its distinctive archway was preserved and integrated into the entry of the senior building, serving as a connection to the past.
“We had a fairly lengthy pre-development period as we worked with the community,” says Jesse Batus, senior project manager at TCB. “That lengthy public process resulted in some of the best aspects of the building. Saving that archway was a priority based on conversations we had with community groups. Without their input and push, I don’t know if that would have happened.”
The new development, which features 26 public housing, 67 project-based Sec. 8, and 27 low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) units, sets the tone for the rest of the planned six-phase revitalization effort. The overall redevelopment will replace 14 obsolete buildings with 15 modern structures, connect to the larger neighborhood with new streets, and deliver improved services.
Schoolhouse Terrace employs a full-time, on-site resident services coordinator. The College of New Rochelle provides high school equivalency and four-year college coursework for residents and community members on-site.
Schoolhouse Terrace was built with several green building features, including storm water detention systems and green roofing. Officials expect the new project to receive LEED Gold certification.
To finance the $63 million project, the development team assembled multiple funding sources, including the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program and a state brownfield program to clean an oil plume that migrated to the site from another location. Approximately $29 million in state and federal LIHTC equity from RBC Capital Markets—Tax Credit Equity Group and Bank of New York Mellon were vital to the deal.
In addition, a federal Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant allowed for the creation of a transformation plan for the neighborhood to coordinate efforts and leverage resources among community stakeholders.