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West Farms Square apartments overhaul

The West Farms Square and Second Farms housing development was the site of the announcement of a milestone in Mayor Bloomberg’s affordable housing plan.

Coinciding with the beginning of work on a massive renovation of the eight-building, 526-unit low- and moderate-income West Farms Square Plaza Apartments, it was announced on Wednesday, July 20 that the city is now three-quarters of the way towards completing the mayor’s goal of creating or preserving 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014.

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew Wambua, and Housing Development Corporation president Marc Jahr, were at the complex to tout the milestone, and to speak about the HPD and HDC putting together a financing deal for the renovation of the 40-year-old apartment complex located near West Farms Square.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan is the most ambitious affordable housing program in the country, and the results so far have been remarkable,” Steel said. “By the creation or preservation of nearly 125,000 affordable housing units since 2004, the affordable housing plan has helped maintain the city’s housing stock, revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods, and created thousands of jobs.”

HPD and HDC purchased the mortgage on the West Farms Square project from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2009 and then set to finance the renaissance by providing a $28.6 million loan from HDC, a $5.6 million loan from the city, and $23.5 million in tax credits that should keep the apartment complex an affordable housing development for the next 40 years, with all residents spending no more than a third of their income on rent every month.

The buildings, owned by a non-profit affiliated with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, will receive new elevators, windows, boilers, compactors, floors and facades. Individual apartments will be upgraded with new kitchens, bathroom fixtures, flooring, doors, repainting, and window repairs as needed.

In addition, playground areas that 35-year resident Yvonne Adorno said were closed in the 1980s will be reopened and refurbished. The benches and sitting areas were taken out to stop loitering, but left the community without a place to enjoy the outdoors, Adorno said.

“There are a lot of working tenants who want to come home to a nice apartment, and retirees and elderly who would like to go to a park and sit down,” said Anita Walker, who has lived there for 34 years.

Speaking at the ceremony were Monsignor John Jenik, president of the West Farms Square HDFC, along representatives from the joint sponsors and developers for the rehabilitation project, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation and University Neighborhood Housing Program.

“We are extremely proud of being able to put this deal together,” Jenik said, after recalling how the buildings were originally built in the early 1970s, and how the surrounding area saw a decline that reduced much of the housing stock to rubble, followed by a rebirth.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2012.

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