Major Improvements to Philip’s Senior House, a Mitchell Lama Development in Central Harlem, Will Preserve Affordability for 40 Years
July 29, 2014
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the preservation of Philip’s Senior House, a fourteen-story Mitchell Lama building with 200 units in Central Harlem. As part of its rehabilitation and modernization, Philip’s Senior House will also remain affordable for low- and moderate-income seniors for forty years.
“Upgrading Mitchell-Lama developments like the Philip’s Senior House is a central part of our strategy to provide better affordable housing options to New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “By completely restoring this building, we have provided a more vibrant and welcoming place for hundreds of senior citizens. This ambitious project has been further supplemented by our $1 billion House New York program – the state’s largest investment in affordable housing in more than a decade – allowing us to create more vibrant communities across the state.”
Before the renovation, the Philip’s Senior House complex at 220 West 133rd Street sat nearly 50 percent vacant, having suffered years of severe deferred maintenance. In 2012, New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) provided more than $22.6 million in tax exempt bonds, $1.8 million in subsidy and $1.19 million in an annual allocation of low-income housing tax credits for the Philip’s Senior House refinancing and revitalization, allowing for all units in the complex to be upgraded. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided $124,500 in energy efficient incentives. Total development costs for the renovation were $38.9 million. The project was completed by Blue Sea Development, LLC.
HCR Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns said, “Philip’s Senior House had been ravaged by time, but its transformation is a testament to Governor Cuomo’s commitment to affordable housing. I congratulate Blue Sea Development, local leaders and our state and public partners, who worked collaboratively to once again make Philip’s Senior House a vital and stable part of the fabric of the fast-changing Harlem community. With the refinancing and rehabilitation of this Mitchell Lama, more than 200 seniors now have a better place to call home.”
Congressman Charles Rangel said, "I am proud of Governor Cuomo's dedicated effort to provide affordable housing for those who need it most. The livelihood of seniors who have very little or no income depend on such well-deserved support, as they have given so much to society and to the development of our communities. The funding will be instrumental in promoting healthier and more independent living for those who reside at the Philip’s Senior House."
Assemblyman Keith Wright, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, said, “This project celebrates what is best about Harlem – her people. Philip’s Senior House can now reclaim its rightful place as a key resource in Harlem – thanks to the Governor who made the financing possible. This is a proud day for Harlem, a proud day for New York City and a proud day for New York State. Together, we were able to rescue the viability of a great part of our neighborhood’s tradition by taking care of the seniors who have helped make Harlem great.”
NYSERDA President and CEO John Rhodes said, "The Philip's Senior House project represents a great example of smart, new ways to provide affordable, energy efficient housing for seniors - by working with public and private partners and as part of broader housing revitalization work. This project underscores Governor Cuomo's commitment to make New York's building stock more energy efficient and economic by reducing overall energy costs."
Joan B. Browne, President of St. Philip's Church Housing Corporation said, "It's wonderful to see Philip's Senior House fully occupied again with improvements that will enhance the lives of our seniors. This was a priority for the Harlem community and we share the celebration with our state and private partners who brought us to this day."
Senator Bill Perkins said, "Today, as we mark the official completion of Philip’s Senior House, we have taken a positive step forward in terms of ensuring that our beloved senior population can continue to grow, thrive and enrich our communities for years to come—free from the worry that they will be downsized or displaced by the forces of skyrocketing rents due to gentrification. After all that our seniors have contributed to this city and our neighborhoods therein, we owe them this peace of mind--and this peaceful, empowering place called home. I am confident that Philip’s Senior House is a replicable model and partnership that can proliferate across all of our boroughs to ensure we meet the needs of our cherished seniors."
Developer Les Bluestone, co-founder of Blue Sea Development Company, LLC said, "In addition to providing a substantial renovation to the building, we focused on sustainability and green building improvements, installing state of the art heating, hot water, and co-generation systems, along with adding architectural features and amenities that are inviting, as well as functional. We very much thank the Governor and Commissioner Towns for allowing us the opportunity to reimagine this urban landscape for our seniors, providing healthier attractive living environments and communal spaces."
First opened in 1974, Philip’s Senior House has undergone a top-to-bottom refitting of new heating and hot water systems, along with thermostatic controls on all radiators. The scope of the rehabilitation also included: replacement of the roof; repointing of the entire façade; new windows; new air conditioner sleeves; new intercom system; refurbishing the two passenger elevators; and a new security camera system. All of the units were also renovated with new kitchens and bathrooms; and new plumbing, fixtures, lighting fixtures, and Energy-Star appliances. The common areas, indoors and out, were also turned into welcoming community spaces to encourage social interaction and engagement among the residents and their visitors. Additionally, in partnership with GrowNYC, tenants will learn about healthy living habits by working on a new community garden, planting and harvesting fresh vegetables.
Photos of the facility prior to its renovation can be found here and here. Post-renovation photos are available here and here.
New York State’s Mitchell-Lama Housing Program was first proposed by State Senator MacNeil Mitchell and Assemblyman Alfred Lama and was signed into law in 1955 by Governor William Averell Harriman. Under the state’s Private Housing Finance Law, the program provided for the creation of affordable housing, both rental and co-operatively owned, for middle-income residents. Developers received tax abatements and low-interest mortgages, subsidized by the federal, state, or New York City government. In total, 269 housing developments with 105,000 units were developed with State aid under the Mitchell-Lama Program.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) consists of all the State's major housing and community renewal agencies, including the Affordable Housing Corporation, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the Housing Finance Agency, State of New York Mortgage Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation and others.
HCR is in the second year of Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion House New York program, which creates thousands of new units over five years, and is the largest investment in affordable housing in at least 15 years. House New York will also preserve thousands of Mitchell-Lama units, extending affordability for 40 years. The House New York initiative builds on the successes of unprecedented efforts to protect more than two million rent-regulated tenants, with the greatest strengthening of the state’s rent laws in 30 years, and the creation of the Tenant Protection Unit which proactively audits and investigates landlord wrongdoing.