Via Verde Affordable Housing in the Bronx Wins ULI Award Workforce Housing Model of Excellence

An eco-friendly housing development in the Bronx is one of the three projects nationwide to receive the 2012 Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Model of Excellence Award from the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

An eco-friendly housing development in the Bronx has become one of three projects nationwide to receive the 2012 Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Model of Excellence Award from the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The award, which was announced recently during the national conference of ULI in Denver, is named after Jack Kemp—former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and former U.S. Representative—and recognizes and honors developers who demonstrate leadership and creativity in providing housing opportunities for working communities.

In order to be eligible for this award, housing developments are required to be affordable and energy efficient, be located close to centers of employment and transportation hubs, use innovative building technologies and systems, and demonstrate the highest level of green construction sustainability.

The 296,000-square-foot Via Verde opened in the summer of 2012 as a mixed-use, mixed-income residential building located at 700-706 Brook Avenue and 156th Street in the Melrose section of the Bronx on a triangular site formerly occupied by a railroad storage yard and a gas station. The 1.5-acre parcel was decontaminated under the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program.

The $98.8 million project was co-developed by Phipps Houses and Jonathan Rose Companies, who worked closely with Harlem-based Lettire Construction—the general contractor. Created by co-architects Dattner Architects and Grimshaw Architects, the LEED Gold-certified project showcases a highly innovative green design while providing affordable housing options to low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

Via Verde consists of 151 rental units designed affordable for the next 30 years and 71 middle-income co-op units targeted to households earning 80 to 100 percent of the area median income. Co-ops at Via Verde feature spacious floor plans with hardwood floors, remote control ceiling fans, in-unit washers and dryers, and luxury kitchens equipped with Energy Star appliances and dishwashers.

Select units feature balconies, private backyards and duplex layouts. Building amenities include a landscaped courtyard designed by Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture, an attended lobby, an amphitheater, a fitness center, a penthouse community room, bicycle storage and resident gardening beds. The development also includes a 5,000-square-foot community facility on the ground floor and 2,000 square feet of retail space.

With its green rooftops and building-integrated photovoltaic panels, Via Verde is estimated to be over 30 percent more energy efficient than a standard residential building. About 20 percent of the building materials used for construction was locally manufactured, minimizing transportation energy and supporting local economy. An equal part of construction materials came from recycled and reused materials, and over 80 percent of the demolition waste came from the facilities that formerly occupied the site was recycled.

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