A 105-unit affordable housing development now stands at 870 Southern Boulevard, once the last large city-owned vacant lot.
On Thursday, June 19 the development was officially christened the Sister Thomas Apartments, culminating a 40-year journey that the South East Bronx Community Organization began under the leadership of Fr. Louis Gigante and Sr. Thomas S.C. in the midst of desolate carcasses of buildings still smoldering from the fires of the late 60s and 70s.
“I never thought that I would see this neighborhood rise up from the decay and abandonment in such a relatively short period of time,” said SEBCO chairman Gigante.
The beloved Sister of Charity boasts that her unofficial training came by way of the “Academy of the South Bronx Streets,” where she earned what she refers to as her “P.H.D.” – a degree in Poverty, Hunger, and Determination.
“Sister Thomas Apartments culminates and completes my vision for the redevelopment of Hunts Point,” continued Gigante.
All of the apartments in Sister Thomas Apartments have two bedrooms with hardwood floors and plenty of closet space. The building is wired for both cable and satellite TV and has a laundry room on the lobby level, a parking area, a community room and a spacious backyard. The rents range from $739 to $899 depending on household income. Homeless families and those renting with Section 8 vouchers are also welcomed.
“There are only 105 apartments, and we received 2,000 applications,” Sr. Thomas noted, proud of the building that will memorialize her name for future generations to come.
The vacant lot where the building now stands was city-owned property for 30 years, allocated to SEBCO under the administration of former Mayor Ed Koch. Koch came back to a hero’s welcome on June 19.
“I had great respect for [Fr. Gigante],” noted Koch. “He was totally involved in his community and they loved him.”
Koch’s initial investment of $5.1 billion dollars, beginning in 1986, built or renovated 250,000 units of housing.
Now other organizations have jumped on board.
New York State, through its housing agencies, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal and the Housing Finance Agency, provided the funding for the Sister Thomas Apartments. Additional private funding also contributed to the project.
Tiffany Park, located adjacent to the building, is being built with SEBCO funds and a $500,000 award comprised of capital funds from Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr.’s office.
©2008 Community News Group