Today’s news:

MHHC’s Harrison Circle fully funded

Morris Heights Health Center had a dream. To house 70 low-income seniors. To treat an additional 18,000 patients annually. To create 45 permanent jobs.

On Tuesday, January 19, MHHC announced that its dream would come true. Enterprise Community Investment and United Fund Advisors have closed $22.3 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits for Harrison Circle.

Enterprise helped MHHC win tax credits for its Harrison Circle rental apartments years ago. But 22 months into construction at W. Burnside and Harrison avenues, MHHC’s costs had nearly doubled, from an estimated $27 million to $47 million, and its Harrison Circle healthcare center remained short on funds. No longer.

“When we started [on Harrison Circle] in 2004, we by no means envisioned an 100 percent increase in cost,” MHHC senior vice present Judith Fairweather said. “We’re grateful to Enterprise and UFA.”

JP Morgan Chase agreed to invest in the Harrison Circle tax credits, Enterprise vice president John Ducey said. New Market Tax Credits target retail, office and school endeavors in low-income areas.

Enterprise, which also won New Market Tax Credits for Boricua College in Melrose, focuses on “green” construction. The 48,700 square foot Harrison Circle will meet the green construction “LEED Silver” standard.

“Some 75 percent of people served by Morris Heights Health Center are at or below the poverty line,” Ducey explained. “It made sense for us to get involved.”

MHHC hopes to complete construction in April, Fairweather said. Increased construction costs and unanticipated ground conditions caused Harrison Circle’s price to spike.

But when the healthcare center is done, MHHC will boast expanded primary care, expert care and diagnostic imaging capabilities. It will offer mammograms to more Bronx residents, for example.

Plus, the healthcare center will serve as an economic base in the neighborhood, Fairweather said. Several small stores have opened close to Harrison Circle. The neighborhood needs increased investment.

MHHC president Verona Greenland described Harrison Circle as “an anchor” that has already transformed the streetscape of the neighborhood.

“You walk up the hill from the subway where you used to see vacant lots and you see a beautiful building,” Greenland said. “We’re happy to address not only the healthcare but also the social and economic needs of the community.”

Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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