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Harrison Circle opens amid fanfare

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Millions of dollars invested in a new building that will provide senior housing, a new health center and retail space is surely a cause for celebration.

And that is exactly what occurred on Wednesday, December 1, as the new $ 45 million, 6-story Harrison Circle Building at 55-65 W. Burnside Avenue officially opened.

The mixed-use, 112,000 square-foot building is part of Morris Heights Health Center, and will include 70 units of affordable senior housing. Former borough president and current Regional U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Administrator Adolfo Carrion Jr. presented the keynote address to hundreds before the ribbon cutting in the lobby of the building.

The opening of the structure marked the first time in New York State that federal 202 program funding for subsidized, low-rent senior housing was combined with tax credits, including $22.3 million worth of federal stimulus New Market Tax Credits, to complete a new “green” project.

The facility is LEED certified Silver for commercial interiors, and includes many energy-efficient components. It also contains more than 38,000 square feet of medical space that will help MHHC reach an additional 18,000 clients a year.

“This project represents a remarkable partnership between the public and private sectors,” Carrion said. “This is especially impressive, given the downturn in the economy and the scarcity of credit. MHHC is answering the ever-growing need for critical health care, life services, and affordable housing for Bronx seniors. These are types of collaborations we need as our resources are stretched. Thanks to Enterprise, the National Community Fund, and HUD joining forces with the Morris Heights Community Health Center, we created a marvelous mixed-use development that will offer a better quality of life for the residents of Morris Heights. I am proud to have been a partner as Bronx borough president, and now as HUD regional administra­tor.”

J.P. Morgan Chase agreed to invest in Harrison Circle tax credits, and the project, which had broken ground early in 2008, was fully-funded in February.

Morris Heights Community Health Center CEO and president Verona Greenlandhas called the building an “anchor” in the community. Its completion is expected to create 45 permanent jobs, in addition to temporary and construction positions.

“Morris Heights Community Health Center has been an economic anchor for the Bronx and we have always anticipated and responded to the needs of our community,” Greenland said. “The opening of the new Harrison Circle Building further enables the community’s growing needs with much-needed additional specialty care, housing and social services for seniors, and retail.

“Combining the new facility with our 30 years of experience, we will continue to be at the forefront in providing Morris Heights with the quality, accessible and affordable services in deserves.”

In her remarks during the ceremony, Abby Jo Sigal, vice-president and New York director for Enterprise, said that all low-income seniors should be so lucky to live in a building like Harrison Circle. A lottery was held for admittance into the senior housing at Harrison Circle.

For more information about Morris Heights Community Health Center, visit mhhc.org.

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