Bronx, NY – NYC Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner (HPD) Mathew M. Wambua; NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr; Les Bluestone, Principal of the Blue Sea Development Company; and Habitat-NYC Executive Director Josh Lockwood joined today to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for The Melody, a new affordable co-op located at 853 Macy Place in the Longwood section of the Bronx. Sixty-three low- and moderate-income families in the South Bronx will get a double dose of healthy living and an opportunity to become homeowners in a building that is both green and promotes an active lifestyle. Habitat-NYC families will occupy fourteen of the homes. These future homeowners, working with Habitat volunteers, helped to construct the interiors of their units.
The Melody was named in honor of the neighborhood’s musical legacy, which nurtured jazz, mambo, doo wop, rhythm and blues, salsa, Latin soul and hip hop. Through the years, local clubs provided venues for many famous artists, ranging from Machito to Dizzie Gillespie, Miles Davis, the Chantels, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Nancy Wilson to Grandmaster Flash. The building’s public spaces are decorated with artwork by Beatrice Coron celebrating the area’s music history.
These new homes sit on land formerly owned by the City of New York, and awarded through HPD’s Cornerstone program. The Melody was developed under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), an $8.4 billion initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by 2014. To date, the plan has funded the creation or preservation of 113,131 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs; more than 3,850 of those units are in Bronx Community Board 2 where The Melody is located.
HPD Commissioner Wambua said: “This building, and others like it, is here because of a strong partnership among developers, advocates, financers and the city. But in all honesty, we would not be standing here were it not for the strong commitment of our Mayor to the creating and preservation of affordable housing.This building offers new life to this community – and the opportunity of home ownership. The families who will live here will remember a vibrant and growing community – a good place for kids to thrive and to call home. The Melody salutes the past – and it exemplifies our vision of hope for the future. Who knows: the next Miles Davis or Grandmaster Flash may be growing up within these walls!”
HDC President Jahr said: “The Bronx has experienced a remarkable rebirth. Not too long ago, the creation of cooperative homeownership opportunities here in The Bronx would have been unthinkable.Thanks to the efforts of many partners, this is no longer the case. Today, the Melody is joining the roster of the eight other affordable co-ops we have helped to finance in The Bronx under the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan. And like all of Blue Sea’s developments, it is unique. Blue Sea’s known for respecting the history and culture of the neighborhoods it works in – the Melody, in paying tribute to the rich musical tradition that shaped Longwood and the City of New York, is no exception to that rule.
Josh Lockwood, Executive Director of Habitat-NYC, said: “Habitat-NYC is working to build more homes than every before for hardworking New York City families in need. We are proud to be a part of this incredible building, which will transform so many lives in the South Bronx. We thank Les Bluestone for including Habitat-NYC in The Melody and the many partners, funders and volunteers who helped create these homes.”
The Melody is an eight-story building with 63 affordable homeownership units, including six one-bedroom units, 47 two-bedroom units and 10 three-bedroom units, parking for 16 vehicles and a fully equipped fitness center. Fourteen units are designated for families earning not more than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) and 48 units for families earning up to 110% of AMI, with income affordability ranging from $34,916 to $89,237.
Built to LEED Platinum and ENERGY STAR® green standards, The Melody is also the first residential building in New York City to open that uses the LEED Innovation Credit for Physical Activity presented in the NYC Active Design Guidelines (www.nyc.gov/adg), which encourage physical activity and health. It includes a fully equipped fitness center, outdoor exercise path with fitness stations, children’s climbing and active play area, and prominent stairs and bicycle storage facilities.
This healthy, environmentally sustainable building stands on a former brownfield site.
Among its many unique attributes, The Melody boasts:
. LEED Platinum and ENERGY STAR® standards, featuring highly efficient heating and mechanical systems
. Co-generation system that produces electricity and hot water
. Healthy indoor environment through non-toxic materials and controlled filtered ventilation systems
. Active living components, including fully equipped indoor and outdoor fitness centers, bicycle storage, children’s climbing and play area and prominent stairs.
. Decorative ironwork and lobby art pieces honoring the community’s musical legacy by artist Béatrice Coron
The Melody employed ex-offenders through Wildcate Service Corps to help build the project and provided construction job training for graduates from Harlem Congregational Communities.
In addition to conveying land for the project, HPD contributed $1.8 million in City Capital funds for the construction phase of The Melody. HDC issued approximately $8.7 million dollars in tax exempt bond financing and loaned $4.1 million of its corporate reserve funds through its Affordable Co-op Program. The NYS Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) provided $2.1 million, the Bronx Borough President’s office provided $642,000 in Reso A funding, and an additional $265,288 was provided by NYSERDA.
Some of the famous artists performing or living in these neighborhoods included: Machito, Mario Bauza and Arsenio Rodriguez; Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Nancy Wilson; the Chords, the Chantels and Ashford and Simpson; Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Mongo Santamaria, and later, during the hip hop years, Grandmaster Flash and the Cold Crush Brothers.
“As people whose origins were in the West Indies, the American South and Puerto Rico moved into the community from Harlem, they brought musical traditions that flourished, and ultimately blended, in this little corner of the South East Bronx,” Naison continued. “Played in venues like Club 845, the Tropicana and the Hunts Point Palace, sung on street corners and building hallways, and nurtured in local schools, this outpouring of musical creativity took forms as varied as mambo, bebop, rhythm and blues, and later salsa, Latin soul and hip hop.
“The music of this community made its way into recordings and brought joy to people around the globe,” Naison said.