Search results for "NYC Department of Housing, Preservation and Development"

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Appoints Housing Team
Over the weekend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced four key appointments to his housing team. The mayor selected Shola Olatoye—a former vice president at the affordable housing non-profit Enterprise Community Partners—to chair the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). He also announced that Cecil House will stay on as the authority’s General Manager. Vicki Been, the director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, will become commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. And Gary D. Rodney, an executive at the affordable housing developer Omni New York, will run the Housing Development Corporation. “We are going to take a new approach to this crisis that holds nothing back. From doing more to protect tenants in troubled buildings, to innovating new partnerships with the private sector, to forging a new relationship with our NYCHA communities,” said de Blasio in a press release. “Every decision we make will focus on maximizing the affordability of our neighborhoods.” This team—along with newly appointed City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod—will be tasked with implementing de Blasio’s aggressive affordable housing agenda. The mayor has pledged to preserve or create 200,000 affordable housing units over the next decade.
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Restitching the Bronx
The proposal would improve connection and increase waterfront access in the Bronx.
Courtesy DCP

Only a few weeks before administrations changed hands at the mayor’s office, New York City released a comprehensive inter-agency report seeking to overhaul the Sheridan Expressway, the short but divisive freeway that cuts through the southern Bronx. This new study, which solidifies a number of recommendations introduced last spring, is part of a larger effort to reinvigorate a part of the borough that has been split apart by the unsightly expressway, creating perilous pedestrian crossings and exposing residents to hazardous air pollution.

The scope of this report is more far-reaching than simply the revamping of the Sheridan. It also calls for rezoning to allow for mixed-use development, which the agency says will lead to an increase in jobs.

Plan showing the segment of the Sheridan proposed to become a boulevard.

City Planning (DCP) worked collaboratively with the New York City Department of Transportation, the Economic Development Corporation, and Housing Preservation and Development to put this study together, officially titled, "The Sheridan Expressway Study: Reconnecting the Neighborhoods Around the Sheridan Expressway and Improving Access to Hunts Point."

“We always knew this was a long-term plan and would span many administrations,” said Carol Samol, City Planning Bronx Director at DCP. “There are some things we can get quickly, and others that will take more time and require more major steps such as an environmental review and a public review process.”


The proposal not only requires inter-agency teamwork, but also necessitates extensive coordination between city and state. Since the highways are operated by the state, these recommendations must be vetted and ultimately carried out by the New York State Department of Transportation.

The 1.5-mile Sheridan Expressway—a remnant of Robert Moses’ failed plan to create a link between the Triborough Bridge and the New England Thruway—generally operates substantially below capacity but is often used by trucks. To relieve congestion and enhance the connection to the Greenway and Starlight and Concrete Plant parks for pedestrians, the city recommends rehabilitating the northern half of the expressway and turning it into a boulevard. The plan entails three new crossings to establish a direct path to the waterfront and also adding ramps to enable trucks to reach the industrial corridor at Hunts Point more easily.


The city hopes that these improvements will set the ground work for the rezoning of the waterfront and attract new development, drawing more people back to the Bronx and righting a wrong from one of Moses’ most fractious urban renewal plans.

“This study gave us a chance to be visionary about the neighborhood, but to also look at small changes that when all combined will have a powerful effect,” said Samol. “The South Bronx will be a better place.”

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De Blasio's In Crowd
Alicia Glen has been selected to serve as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development.
Courtesy Goldman Sachs

In his inaugural speech Mayor Bill de Blasio repeatedly used the phrase “tale of two cities.” It remains to be seen how the new Mayor will reshape New York City as one, but his recent appointments suggest how his administration will steer the city forward.

Prior to the New Year snowstorm, de Blasio had named several appointees to agencies that oversee the city’s built environment: Alicia Glen as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development; Polly Trottenberg as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation; and Kyle Kimball to continue as President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

“I'm very excited about these three appointments—their sophistication, and balanced perspectives... they each know how to get things done—and are each progressive and realize the city needs innovative approaches to ensure and enhance livability and resilience going forward,” wrote Vin Cipolla, President of the Municipal Art Society, in an email.

“Alicia Glen’s job title—housing and economic development—sends the signal that the creation of affordable housing comes first,” said Rick Bell, executive director of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter. Glen is tasked with carrying out the new mayor’s goal of creating and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing. “Alicia understands how money works and how things get financed,” continued Bell. “This is music to the ears of architects who are building housing and to those of us who have long been concerned about community development.”

For the past twelve years Glen headed the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs, which committed over $2.8 billion in low-income development projects in cities throughout the country. She was also instrumental in raising over $40 million to help finance New York’s Citi Bike bicycle share program. From 1998 to 2002 Glen was the assistant commissioner for housing finance at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Polly Trottenberg replaces Janette Sadik-Khan as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. Since January 2014 Trottenberg served as the Under Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, where she worked on TIGER, the grant program that helped fund many multi-modal projects. “She brings a keen understanding of how mass transit works,” said Bell. In a statement the de Blasio transition emphasized that Trottenberg will advance the “ambitious agenda to expand Bus Rapid Transit in the outer boroughs, reduce traffic fatalities, increase bicycling, and boost the efficiency of city streets.”

A veteran of the Bloomberg administration, Kyle Kimball will continue as President of NYCEDC, a position he has held since August 2013. He has been with the organization since 2008 and has worked on the Applied Sciences NYC initiative, creating four new graduate science and engineering campuses. He has also been involved with outer-borough economic development projects, including the transformation of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.

De Blasio has yet to fill a host of positions including commissioners of City Planning, Building, Design and Construction, Parks and Recreation, Landmarks Preservation, Cultural Affairs, Public Design, and Long-term Planning and Sustainability.

In related news, Holly Leicht has been appointed to serve as Regional Administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Region II, which comprises New York and New Jersey. Leicht, who was Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks, will oversee ongoing Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

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Stockholm-based White Arkitekter Wins FAR ROC Design Competition
Sweden-based firm White Arkitekter has been named the winner of the "For a Resilient Rockaway" (FAR ROC) design competition. The team's winning proposal, Small Means & Great End, offers a set of design strategies to transform an empty swath of land, known as Averne East, along the Rockaways in Queens, New York into a resilient, mixed-use community. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), along with private developers and the AIA New York Chapter,  shortlisted four finalists back in July, including Ennead Architects, Lateral Office, and Seeding Office. Ennead's design, "Fostering Resilient Ecological Development," was recognized by the jury for Leading Innovation in Resilient Waterfront Design for its diverse ecological design solutions. White Arkitekter, which has been granted a $30,000 prize to realize its plan for the 80-acre site, has proposed implementing "a series of small, affordable, and smart interventions,which aims to mitigate damage, provide improved access during a storm, and create what they call an "antifragile" environement that fares better during and after extreme weather conditions. 01-farroc-competition-winner-white-architects-nyc-rockaways-landscape-archpaper
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The Nuanced Approach
SWA Group's Buffalo Bayou Promenade created recreational areas along the waterway and incorporated flood mitigation infrastructure.
Tom Fox / SWA Group

New York was still pumping Sandy’s surge-water out of its subway system when news headlines began to trumpet how best to ride out the next big storm—“NYC Sea Barrier: Its Time Has Come” or “Saving New York by Going Green”—leaving the impression that infrastructure could be neatly categorized into opposite kinds: grey vs. green or hard vs. soft. The thread that bound everything together was the promise of a more “resilient” New York. But the menacing irony here is that these kinds of easy dualisms have a lot to do with getting us to our present state of vulnerability in the first place. When the U.S. looks like a schoolroom map—blue for water, green for land, Mississippi River as a winding line, and barrier islands stretching out along the coast—it seems perfectly reasonable to build public housing on the Rockaways, industrial parks along the Gulf Coast, and cities in the Mississippi delta. In reality, though, coastlines are not lines at all, but zones of negotiation between land and sea, barrier islands are on the move (briskly so, on geological terms), and the delta is an impossible-to-distinguish mixture of water and land and everything in between. The climate-related risks we now face don’t hew to any dualisms. Floodwaters overwhelm dykes and dunes alike. Tornados and wildfires are blindly indiscriminate. And heat waves are just that: waves that lack clear boundary in space and time. It follows, then, that the strategies used to render our communities resilient from these risks must also emerge from this kind of nuance.

Buffalo Bayou Promenade.
Bill Tatham; Tom Fox

There are compelling guides in place. In On The Water: Palisade Bay, for example, pioneering research by structural engineer Guy Nordenson, with Catherine Seavitt, a landscape architect, and Adam Yarinsky, an architect, allowed the team to propose coastal planning strategies in the New York/New Jersey harbor that hybridized land and sea, hard and soft.

Leaving aside the question about whether it is caused by humans, there can be no doubt that sea levels are rising and that extreme climate events are happening more intensively and more regularly, so cities around the U.S. are planning for these events. For Houston, which trails only New Orleans as the city with the most repetitive flood claims in the U.S., developing a resilient urban design is of paramount concern. There, the SWA Group designed a 23-acre park along what had been the neglected banks of Buffalo Bayou, and, in the process, created a zone where green and grey become indistinguishable. Built to withstand flooding and engineered to mitigate the collateral damage incurred by those natural events, its planted slopes weave the waterway back into the urban experience as a strip of recreational space at the center of Houston.


Sasaki Associates’ plan for Cedar Rapids integrates flood protection infrastructure into the landscape.
Courtesy Sasaki Associates

Important though these measures are, rivers can’t be understood as isolated strips of water. As SWA Group CEO Kevin Shanley put it, “you don’t solve flooding issues by fixing the river.” Floods, after all, are the result of actions across entire watersheds. With this in mind, Shanley and SWA are working with regional agencies and municipalities to advocate for low-impact development as a way to increase permeability across the entire watershed. Since climate events don’t follow jurisdictional boundaries, resilience measures need to transcend those borders, too, knowing that cities in a region are linked to a similar set of risks. Urban design policies by each municipality in a watershed—even those that are politically and materially distinct—effect the others. “If a watershed is not yet urbanized, it could take days or weeks for water to reach the river,” explained Shanley. “But if you have a situation like Houston, where a lot of it is urbanized, that process takes hours or minutes.”

In addition to material infrastructure, Sasaki Associates’ plan for Cedar Rapids includes communication networks across the watershed region.
Courtesy Sasaki Associates

This was a lesson learned the hard way by Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when, in 2008, the Cedar River flooded, causing extensive damage across the city from floodwaters that crested over 30 feet. The Boston-based planning and design firm Sasaki developed a multi-phase redevelopment plan aimed not only at recovery, but also at preventing the kind of devastation seen in 2008. “Our focus was on understanding the relationship of the community with the natural environment,” explained Sasaki principal Jason Hellendrung, which meant treating the site not as a defined, physical entity, but rather as a diverse community of people within a watershed region. “By now, it’s pretty clearly understood that hard systems can fail,” said Hellendrung, so by calling for a 220-acre greenway along the river that incorporates infrastructure ranging from hard to soft, Sasaki designed the kind of overlapping systems that resilience demands. The project also highlights the need to consider interventions beyond the material. For months, Sasaki worked closely with community members and organizations to tailor its response to Cedar Rapids. And part of the redevelopment plan that ensued includes communication networks for flood warnings and plans to cooperate more closely with municipalities across the watershed region.

De Urbanisten’s Watersquare project in Rotterdam is a sunken urban plaza that doubles as a catchment system to manage stormwater.
Courtesy De Urbanisten

“Resiliency needs to be nuanced,” said Lisa Switkin, Managing Director of James Corner Field Operations. “On one hand, it is robust and persistent, and on the other, it’s yielding and adaptive. It’s all about finding the right balance for this mix.”

She is setting out to strike this balance in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, where the firm is currently at work on a 22-acre waterfront site. Though the park will serve as a front-line defense against storm surges, it is a task it will carry out covertly, as it functions primarily as a place for Greenpoint residents to do the things people do in a park. “After Sandy, ‘resilience’ has become a buzzword,” she warned. “But it’s completely embedded into the concept of landscape architecture, since we look at both soft systems and hard systems, and since we always take a long view in considering time.”

Watersquare in dry (left) and wet (right) conditions.
Courtesy De Urbanisten

The design includes plenty of grey. On the edge closest to the river, a concrete armor wall provides a hard barrier against pre-Sandy 100-year flood projections, while ribbons of precast concrete retaining walls offer second-, third-, and fourth-line defenses within the park itself, and concrete-paved walkways are fastened to the site. But the park’s section could double as a diagram for the so-called grey- and green-infrastructure integration. The broad promenade is divided into linear bands, a marbling of concrete walkways and planted strips. The retaining walls double as seating and also act to hem in raised planters. Not only do these bands allow the designers to hybridize green and grey into a cohesive system, they also make it possible to terrace the waterfront, leaving the edge along the adjacent community—and the vaults for the park’s electrical systems—well above the new 100-year flood levels.

“Rather than thinking of this as a singular bulkhead—as a strict edge where water and land meet—we are proposing a series of terraces that can be inundated and flooded,” said Switkin.


Rendering (top) and construction view (above) of De Urbanisten’s Watersquare project.
Courtesy De Urbanisten

For its Crane Cove Park design in San Francisco, AECOM faced a similar challenge, complicated by the fact that the site included historic buildings protected by preservation registers. This delicate arrangement highlights the fact that resiliency measures can’t be considered singularly and need to become integrated into the full range of design considerations—historic preservations, yes, but also livability, real estate, and environment. In this case, to raise the site would be to compromise the historicity of these structures, but to leave the grading in place would leave the entire site vulnerable to high waters. AECOM found a third way by modifying the topography through a series of cuts-and-fills. This way, the designers opened up areas in the site for floodwaters to fill. “We are embracing the fact that the park will flood during certain events,” said AECOM principal Alma du Solier. This will largely happen along the former ship-building slipways, where historic keel blocks will be repurposed as park amenities, but designed to be easily forklifted to higher ground as sea levels rise. “In essence,” said du Solier, “the project itself becomes a kind of levee for these historic buildings.”

AECOM’s Crane Cove Park in San Francisco is designed to flood, absorbing the brunt of a storm surge and protecting the populated area beyond.
Courtesy AECOM and Port of San Francisco

Even the Dutch, who are routinely touted as the “grey infrastructuralists” par excellence, are beginning to break down their own status quo. “Pumping out water and building higher dykes just isn’t feasible in the long run,” said Tracy Metz, author of Sweet & Salt: Water and the Dutch. Citing a regulation that mandates any new housing to set aside 10 percent of the site to water, she said “now, the priority is to incorporate water into already dense urban conditions.”

“People love water, so the challenge is to create these spaces that work as a safety measure, but also as places for people to enjoy,” she said, pointing to the de Urbanisten-designed Watersquare project, in Rotterdam, which creates a sunken urban plaza doubling as a catchment system to manage excess water in the event of flooding.

Crane Cove Park seen in low tide (left) and during high tide (right).
Courtesy AECOM and Port of San Francisco

Any design for resilience needs to carefully manage public perceptions of safety. Levees are often faulted for creating a false sense of security (and justifying risky real estate development) while the promises made by soft systems in urban contexts needs to be more fully studied. “This is a discussion that needs nuance—and a lot of rigorous scientific research,” said Shanley. “If you’re talking about adding dunes as surge protection, and you’re looking at a surge of 10, 15, 20 feet, plus the wave action on top of that, dunes are like seaweed. All of the energy in this water is in the upper zones, so it’s going to just flow right over,” he said, citing undergoing research at Houston’s Center for Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters. Rather than beating the drums for a seawall or promising to save New York by going green, designers with organizations like these ought to be doubling down, with justified urgency, to understand exactly what those systems mean across given regions.

James Corner Field Operations’ Greenpoint Waterfront Park acts as a frontline of defense against storm surge and as a public outdoor space.
Courtesy James Corner Field Operations

This kind of research-intensive design work is now being undertaken with Rebuild By Design, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Design (HUD), in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation, that aims, first, to undertake analyses of the entire Sandy-affected region, then to propose a range of design concepts on various scales that can be implemented by municipalities as needed. By organizing it in this way, HUD managed to cut across the types of partitions that would otherwise hamper resilience strategies. Teams, for example, include designers, planners, engineers, scientists, geographers, hydrologists, and policy experts. The scale of inquiry ranges from the building detail to entire ecosystems, sites can include dense urban areas and small communities, and, in an important step, it creates a jurisdictional venue that crosses state and city lines to treat the risk of storm surges as the regional issue that it is.

Courtesy James Corner Field Operations

It also brings world-class, site-specific research to vulnerable communities that might otherwise lack the resources to carry out that type of work. “You can never get 100 percent protection from every risk, but we can first understand the risks and tailor solutions to particular risks at specific locations,” said Dan Zarrilli, New York City’s Director of Resiliency. “There is a false dichotomy between hard and soft. Obviously, you wouldn’t build dunes off Lower Manhattan because of the geology and ecology of that place, but in the Rockaways, yes, absolutely.”

The big objective for resilience design, regardless of risk, is to short-circuit the entire list of false dichotomies, beginning with hard and soft, but including river and watershed, shore and sea, urban and rural, and natural and built. This will require a radical reorientation in the way projects are designed and carried out. Disciplines will need to collaborate in unprecedented ways—not by making vapid claims to “interdisciplinarity,” but by assembling committed teams of scientists, engineers, economists, planners and designers. And political borders need to be understood not as boundaries, but as sites of sharing and exchange.

There is a worrisome historical precedent to be found in the sustainability challenge popularized over the last decade. Though significant strides have been taken toward increasing energy efficiency in buildings and cities, many of the real possibilities for fundamental change have been hampered by the lure of a buzzword. Now is the time to imagine just what resilience can be, before it risks devolving into the kind prescribed solutions that can have such a stultifying effect on design. Before someone goes out to coin an acronym for resilience—LEED is taken, SEED, too, so REED seems a likely choice—let’s agree that the scope of resilience transcends any checklist, and it ought to be approached differently, in manner with the projects above.

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HPD Helps Out Homeowners
hpd_logo_01 More than six months after Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City, homeowners are still struggling with the aftermath of the storm. To help with the recovery efforts, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has issued a Request for Qualification looking for developers to rebuild one- to four-unit homes in the city that were damaged by the storm. Funding for the effort will come from Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery money, and all projects must meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The deadline for proposals is June 5, 2013.
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APA Hands Out National Planning Excellence Awards
Northwest Indiana’s 2040 masterplan took home top honors for comprehensive planning last week, when the American Planning Association handed out its 2013 National Planning Excellence Awards. The association also saluted 12 projects with the first-ever National Planning Achievement Awards. Tying into a major theme at this year’s conference, the APA award winners tended toward projects with an ambitious scope, such as Philadelphia’s sweeping planning and zoning rewrite and New York’s Zone Green initiative. Cincinnati’s riverfront development, The Banks, won the implementation award, winning praise for its resurrection of an area cut off from downtown by an expressway since the 1950s. Since then the city’s population has dropped 41 percent. But after a low point in 2002 when the mayor abolished the planning department, Cincinnati is in the midst of a “rebirth,” according to city planners there. “How do we modernize our city without suburbanizing it?” asked Katherine Keough-Jurs, a senior city planner with Cincinnati. She was speaking at a panel on the resurgence of urban planning in the city. “Maybe what makes our city great is what we strayed away from. Let’s look back to that.” Bridging the expressway that once severed downtown from what is now, The Banks was one key example. The city is also developing a form-based code, targeted to areas where walkable communities still thrive. The goal is to keep planners from trying to start a new neighborhood center where it would compete with an existing one. Michael Osur, Deputy Director of the Riverside County, California Department of Public Health was selected for the National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Advocate and Ronald Shiffman was named National Planning Award for a Planning Pioneer. Goody Clancy, Interface Studio, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning were also awarded in the Planning Firm, Emerging Planning & Design Firm, and Planning Agency, respectively. More National Planning Excellence Awards winners, from coast to coast, below. View the twelve winners of the National Planning Achievement Awards here. (All images courtesy APA.) National Planning Excellence Award for a Grassroots Initiative Cathedral City's Environmental Conservation Division (ECD) Kids & Community Program Cathedral City, California From the APA: "The Environmental Conservation Division (ECD) Kids & Community Program is an environmental education and awareness project where young people conceptualize, design, plan and create hands-on environmental projects that help reduce landfill waste and beautify the landscape of Cathedral City. The program's goals include making recycling and conservation fun, preserving the beauty of the local environment, and encouraging youth to play an active role in community efforts. It engages youth within the community and offers a way to learn about the environment while being part of the solution." The HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award  Restoring the American City: Augusta's Laney Walker/Bethlehem Augusta, Georgia From the APA: "The Laney Walker/Bethlehem Revitalization Initiative involves two historic African American neighborhoods and is a pioneering effort to reverse decades of blight and disinvestment and regenerate nearly 1,100 acres of Augusta's urban center. This decision to catalyze regeneration of Augusta's urban core was primarily driven by politics and the need to address a historically disenfranchised population. The project addresses a number of needs and community objectives outlined in the Augusta-Richmond County Comprehensive Plan, including affordable housing, access to jobs and services, open space, blight abatement, infill development, and preservation of local heritage." Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan  2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan: A Vision for Northwest Indiana Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties, Indiana From the APA: "The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's (NIRPC) 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP) represents the first broad planning initiative covering the counties of Lake, Porter and LaPorte. The CRP focuses on a variety of issues including transportation, land use, human and economic resources, and environmental policy objectives. The objective is to offer residents more transportation choices, and making the cities more sustainable and livable." The Pierre L'Enfant International Planning Award The Valsequillo Initiative Puebla, Mexico From the APA: "The Valsequillo Initiative is a planning effort not only to improve the quality of urban areas growing around the Valsequillo Reservoir and increase opportunities for area residents and remediate decades of environmental degradation, but it also aimed to unify urban and environmental planning for the first time. Four years ago, the 58,000-acre Valsequillo region was set to become a new mega-development, a companion city to Puebla, Mexico's fourth largest urban area. Development proposals would have reduced the value of the area's ecological resources and displaced indigenous communities, small farmers, and communal landholders." National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design Lancaster Central Market: Assessments, Guidelines, and Recommendations for Preservation and Development Lancaster, Pennsylvania From the APA: "The Lancaster Central Market: Assessments, Guidelines, and Recommendations for Preservation and Development guidelines was created after a comprehensive study of the Lancaster Central Market that connected the importance of architectural preservation, urban development history, and cultural heritage, to present planning and development decisions. The Central Market is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named by APA as one of the Great Public Spaces in America. The study of the Central Market that resulted in the planning guidelines was a regional first, producing a historical-architectural report to guide building renovations, before decisions were made for a capital improvement project." apa_awards_05 National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning NYC Department of City Planning, Zone Green New York, New York From the APA: "Zone Green is an initiative to modernize regulations for greener buildings. It is a coordinated package of zoning amendments, city legislation, and state legislation that promotes the construction and retrofitting of greener buildings. The regulatory changes adopted through Zone Green affect all categories of buildings throughout New York City, from single-family detached homes to high-density office buildings. It also gives owners and builders more choices for investments to save energy, save money, and improve environmental performance." National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation StarMetro's Route Decentralization Tallahassee, Florida From the APA: "For years, StarMetro operated a hub-and-spoke transit system that brought all passengers to one central transfer location downtown. Riders were forced to unnecessarily travel through the central business district to get to work, resulting in extended commutes and overcrowding. A survey revealed that 93 percent of passengers were traveling somewhere other than downtown. StarMetro was tasked with decentralizing all routes at the same time, within its normal operating budget." apa_awards_13 The HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award Owe'neh Bupingeh Preservation Plan Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico From the APA: "Ohkay Owingeh is the first Pueblo tribe to develop a comprehensive preservation plan that guides practical housing improvements according to cultural values. The Owe'neh Bupingeh Rehabilitation Project is a multi-year, affordable housing, rehabilitation project within the historic core of the tribe's village center. Only 60 homes remain of the nearly several hundred that once existed. Most had been abandoned by 2005 due to deterioration." apa_awards_11 National Planning Excellence Award for a Best Practice Philadelphia's Integrated Planning and Zoning Process Philadelphia, Pennsylvania From the APA: "The Philadelphia City Planning Commission's (PCPC) integrated Planning and Zoning Process is an innovative approach to leveraging the synergy between citizen education, planning, and zoning reform. The PCPC coordinated three distinct planning activities — the Citizens Planning Institute (CPI), Philadelphia2035 (the city's comprehensive plan) and a new zoning code and map revision. Individually, these activities educated hundreds of citizens and professionals, and engaged thousands in envisioning the future of Philadelphia and improving the way development is regulated. Collectively, they created an environment that hadn't existed for 50 years. The city not only adopted a new comprehensive plan and zoning code, but did so in the same year and has moved forward with implementation." apa_awards_07 National Planning Excellence Award for a Communications Initiative We Love Lake Oswego Video City of Lake Oswego, Oregon From the APA: "The City of Lake Oswego created the "We Love Lake Oswego" video as part of its public outreach effort to educate and engage the community in the comprehensive planning process. The video objectives were to convey a compelling story about why to plan for the future, provide a clear, concise concept of what the comprehensive plan update is about, and offer inspiration for the community to participate in the planning process." National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach Newberg 6th Grade Design Star Program Newberg, Oregon From the APA: "The Design Star Program is a learning collaboration between the City of Newberg and local 6th grade students that has engaged students in city planning. The program started as part of the city's outreach efforts during National Community Planning Month and is now an annual collaboration between Newberg city staff and middle school teachers and has been integrated into the curriculum. The program teaches students about why things are organized a certain way in their city, and it allows them to think critically about both the positive and negative impacts of development, the need for jobs in the community, how to differentiate between city wants and city needs, as well as environmental impacts of commuting for jobs and recreation. It also teaches students mapping, writing, presentation, and teamwork skills." apa_awards_02 Advancing Diversity & Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff YWCA Central Alabama Birmingham, Alabama From the APA: "The YWCA Central Alabama undertook a multimillion-dollar urban neighborhood revitalization effort called YWoodlawn. The YWoodlawn Plan was a collaborative empowerment initiative intended to reduce poverty and hopelessness within an underserved area of Birmingham through reinvesting in the neighborhood; providing innovative housing for families experiencing homelessness; introducing affordable transition housing for families; bringing health, education, and employment-based services to the community's doorstep; and reintroducing homeownership opportunities in a stable, growing community."
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Competition Asks Architects to Create Ideas for a More Resilient Waterfront
Hurricane Sandy not only caused considerable damage to the Rockaways, but it also exposed the vulnerability of New York City’s waterfront communities to future storms and changing weather patterns. Today, the American Institute of Architects New York, along with NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development, L+M Development Partners, Bluestone Organization, Triangle Equities, and Enterprise Community Partners, announced a new design competition for "resilient and sustainable development in the Rockaways." The group called on architects to come up with different strategies for how cities can build more thoughtfully in areas prone to flooding. Following the June 14th deadline for submissions, a jury will preside over the proposals. The jury will announce four finalists in July—each of which will receive a stipend of $30,000 to continue to hone their ideas. The winner will be revealed on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, and will be granted an additional $30,000 for their work. The Rockaways have been the focus of a number of competitions, including MoMA PS 1's EXPO 1: NEW YORK, that asked artists, designers, and architects to submit 3-minute videos that provide ideas for making the Rockaways more sustainable.
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New York City to Explore Building More Micro-Apartments
From coast to coast, micro-apartments are all the rage these days. Right on the heels of announcing the winning design team for its first micro-apartment competition, the New York Observer reported that the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Matthew Wambua told a crowd at the Citizens Housing Planning Council yesterday that the city is already scouting out two or three city-owned sites for its next micro-unit development. Once these locations are identified, the HPD said it will put out requests for proposals. The winning team of the city’s adAPT NYC Competition consisted of nARCHITECTS, Monadnock Development, and Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation. This will not only be the city’s first foray into micro-apartment development, but it will also be one of the first projects in Manhattan to use modular construction.
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Via Verde 2.0? Bloomberg Seeks Developer For Last City-Owned Lots in the Bronx
With his time in office coming to a close, Mayor Bloomberg is moving swiftly ahead with his administration’s affordable housing plan, and calling on developers to submit proposals to build on the last sizable stretch of vacant city-owned land in the Melrose and HUB area of the South Bronx. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) is overseeing the Bronxchester Project, and yesterday announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) to develop two parcels into affordable housing and mixed-use space. In the last decade, a wave of new affordable housing developments have taken root in Melrose, a neighborhood destroyed by the arson epidemic in the 1970s and then essentially deserted in the 1980s. “Not long ago it was a rarity to see new affordable homes being constructed in a neighborhood littered with abandoned buildings and rubble strewn lots. What we now see are thousands of new affordable homes and apartments that have laid a foundation for stability and growth in this community; today this is the new normal,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua in a statement. The Bronxchester Project will join other like-developments, such as the Grimshaw-designed Via Verde housing complex and the sprawling Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area, which has added over 2,800 residential units to the neighborhood. The parameters of the project are fairly flexible: Developers have the option to submit proposals for one or two parcels, but must include mixed-income housing, open space, and commercial space or a community facility.  The RFP deadline is July 3, 2013.
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A Win for NYC Tenants: A New Bill Holds Landlords Accountable
It will now be increasingly difficult and costly for New York landlords to flip properties by making quick fixes to buildings that require major structural repairs and improvements. The New York City Council passed a bill yesterday that will allow the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to clamp down on landlords who don’t “repair underlying conditions that lead to repeat violations” stated the City Council in a press release. These violations could include leaks or damaged roofs that lead to mold, which could have a deleterious effect on a tenants “quality of life, health, and safety.” The new legislation will give the owner a four-month period to take the proper measures to fix the problem and provide proof of their compliance. Landlords could face penalties of $1,000 per unit or a minimum of $5,000 if they fail to comply with the order by deadline. While private landlords will be reprimanded for failing to comply with orders by HPD, the question is whether the New York City Housing Authority will also be held accountable and required to pay the same penalties if repairs aren't made. NYCHA claims that there were no “serious structural issues” caused by Hurricane Sandy, but tenants disagree and say the storm revealed a plethora of problems such as cracks, leaks, and loss of hot water. This summer, the Daily News reported that NYCHA board chairman John B. Rhea revealed a “backlog of 338,000 maintenance orders.” City council conducted a report with help of the Boston Consulting Group, which disclosed a study that kids in public housing are "three times more likely to develop asthma as those in private homes." NYCHA might not admit that the repairs constitute major structural issues, but the evidence of these health issues certainly contradicts this claim. Tenants with repeat mold problems have filed a suit against NYCHA for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act citing asthma as a disability. We’ll see if this new bill will compel NYCHA to expedite these maintenance orders.
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BAM! Development Explosion
TEN Arquitectos' 32-story tower viewed from the corner of Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place.
Courtesy TEN Arquitectos

On November 28, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced milestones in three projects that will bring affordable housing and additional cultural and community space to the last city-owned parcels in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District. First, the Gotham Organization and DT Salazar are partnering with City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to develop a 515,000-square-foot mixed-use building on a site bounded by Fulton Street, Rockwell Place, and Ashland Place. Second, Two Trees Management Company has initiated the public review and approval process for a 32-story mixed-use facility designed by Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos on Flatbush and Lafayette. Finally, HPD released an RFP for the last development parcel in the district, located at the intersection of Ashland Place and Lafayette.

“Downtown Brooklyn has very quickly become one of the city’s most vibrant cultural destinations and an exciting place to live,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a statement. “These projects—which will bring more affordable housing and community space to the neighborhood—are more proof of the confidence that the real estate industry has in New York City and in downtown Brooklyn.”

Three parcels in Downtown Brooklyn are targeted for development.
Courtesy Google, Montage by AN

HPD has finalized plans with the Gotham Organization and DT Salazar to build 600 units of new housing, 50 percent of which will be affordable and 40 percent of the affordable units will be two-bedroom units. When completed, the building will also contain 20,000-square-feet of cultural and related office space and 20,000-square-feet of retail space. HPD and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) expect to close on financing with the development team late next year and to see construction begin shortly thereafter. The Gotham Organization has not yet announced the architect of the project, which has just begun design development.

Two Trees, which agreed to purchase the district’s South Site parcel from the City’s Economic Development Corporation in 2009, began the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) to gain approval to build a new mixed-use development on the Flatbush Avenue site. The approximately 47,000-square-foot lot, which is bounded by Flatbush, Lafayette Avenue, and Ashland Place, is currently a parking lot owned and operated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Once the ULURP process is complete, and approvals have been granted, Two Trees can begin constructing the Ten Arquitectos highrise, which includes approximately 50,000-square-feet of creative and cultural space that will be shared by BAM, 651 ARTS, and the Brooklyn Public Library. In addition, the tower will include approximately 23,000-square-feet of ground-level retail, as well as approximately 300 to 400 apartments, 20 percent of which will be affordable.

A plaza along Flatbush Avenue will sit adjacent to Enrique Norten's tower.
Courtesy TEN Arquitectos

Plans for the site also include a 16,000-square-foot public plaza programmed for a variety of outdoor uses, including dance and theater performances, film presentations, open air markets and crafts fairs, and other community uses.

Once the facility is complete, the 50,000-square-feet of cultural space and a portion of the public plaza will be controlled by the City of New York. Approximately 17,400-square-feet of space will be occupied by BAM to allow the institution to meet the needs of its growing audiences. A component of this expansion will enable the academy to make its BAM Hamm Archives Center resources available to the public, providing researchers, artists, educational institutions, and students with access to materials and records documenting the oldest performing arts center in the country.

The Brooklyn Public Library will use approximately 16,500 square feet of the cultural space to open a new state-of-the-art branch. The new branch will offer traditional library services as well as new technologies and programming that will benefit the local community.

651 ARTS, an acclaimed performing arts presenter dedicated to artists of the African Diaspora, will occupy a 12,500-square-foot studio and rehearsal center. The rehearsal studios will be available at affordable rates, and preference will be given to organizations in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District. The state-of-the-art studios will also be multi-purpose space for education programs, and will provide opportunities for live public performances, gatherings, and salons for artists to cultivate their work.

On November 27, HPD released an RFP for Cultural District Site II, the last development parcel in the district, located at the intersection of Ashland Place and Lafayette Avenue. The RFP calls for approximately 100,000 square feet of floor area and may include residential, community, and/or commercial space, with a requirement to include a minimum of 15,000 square feet dedicated to cultural space and the arts. If affordable housing is proposed it must serve low-income New Yorkers. Proposals must be submitted by February 1, 2013. For more information and to download the RFP, visit