Why NYCHA Chose LaGuardia Houses for 35-Story ‘NextGen’ Infill

Posted on: June 5th, 2017 at 5:00 am by

NYCHA infill is no longer called as much. Henceforth, the city refers to it as “NextGeneration Neighborhoods.”

Here at home, it’s the LaGuardia Houses that will soon receive the tower-in-the-park treatment, so to speak. As previously reported, the cash-strapped agency is proposing a 35-story mixed-income rental building with approximately 500 apartments (at 50-50 affordable to market-rate mix) and a ground-floor community facility. The new construction will occupy the “underutilized” plot that functions as parking lot and home to a trash compactor.

The plan remains early in the community engagement process, though. A representative from NYCHA briefed the community last week for the second time in a month (during a CB3 meeting). The narrative pitched is that a 35-story building in the backyard will help stem the hemorrhage of funds while solving the woes of LaGuardia Houses.

Indeed, LaGuardia Houses was selected for the NextGen program given its high repair needs, available land, and revenue potential. At present, the city estimates $70 million in capital repairs are required to rehabilitate the 60-year-old buildings. Apartment interiors and exteriors comprise the lion’s share of that estimate at $36 million and $19 million respectively. Six of the nine buildings in the complex were damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and will reportedly receive $26 million for said repairs.

NYCHA officials continue to assure skeptical locals that the new development is not privatized, and that agency retains ownership of the land on which it sits. The future developer will sign a 99-year ground lease and commit to 50-50 affordable to market rate mix.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released next fall (or winter). The city will choose the winner in spring 2018, with their decision based on how closely the developers mirror the concerns of the community. Once the developer is chosen, NYCHA will begin the “participatory budgeting process” with residents to obtain feedback on improvements most needed at LaGuardia Houses; the agency committed to earmarking half the revenue from the new development into infrastructural upgrades in the public houses complex.

Through NextGen Neighborhoods, NYCHA hopes to develop underutilized space at two to four sites per year over the course of the 10-year strategic plan. NYCHA says that 10,000 more affordable apartments will be included in that redevelopment. To that end, the city already released the RFP for four other NextGen projects around the Five Boroughs.

Construction at the LaGuardia Houses is planned for a 2019 ground-break.

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