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Ribbon-cutting for innovative Via Verde development

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Anything new in the rebuilding of the south Bronx in past years might have looked like a diamond in the rough.

But those days are fast disappearing, with the Melrose community looking more and more like a polished diamond.

The latest case in point is the new Via Verde housing development at Brook Avenue and E. 156th Street, where officials cut the ribbon Monday, June 18.

The affordable housing includes a mix of government subsidized and market-rate homes, with a total of 151-units of affordable rental housing, and 71 co-op units.

There are with a series of gardens between buildings as well as a series of terraced gardens atop the buildings.

The transformation of the area would have seemed unlikely 10 or 20 years ago, those attending the ribbon cutting said.

“No one would have predicted that today there would one day be one of the most innovative, exciting, environmentally sustainable affordable housing developments in the nation – if not the world,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The change that has swept through the south Bronx in the last decade challenges the very notions of what is and isn’t possible in urban revival.”

The housing development will be a source for stability in the community, predicted U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan.

The $100 million complex includes three different types of buildings.

There is a 20-story tower at the north end of the site, one mid-rise building complex in the middle that rises from six stories to 12 stories, and 71 co-op units in townhouses on the southern side.

In addition to amenities like terraces and community space, Montefiore Medical Center is expected to open a comprehensive family medical practice at Via Verde this fall.

Its final design was chosen as part of a contest organized by the city Department of Housing Development and Preservation while Donovan ran it.

It achieved LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The mix of funding was about two-thirds private, one-third public.

Among those attending the ribbon-cutting were Congressman Jose Serrano, Department of Housing Preservation and Development commissioner Mathew Wambua, Housing Development Corporation president Marc Jahr, New York State Homes and Community Renewal commissioner/CEO Darryl Towns, Phipps Housing president and CEO Adam Weinstein, J.P. Morgan Chase’s Frank Bisignano, and Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

“It is an investment in the neighborhood which makes the point that people have not given up on the neighborhood,” Congressman Serrano said.

The rental units are fully leased. Of the 151 rental units, 17 units are reserved for household earning 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or what is equivalent to $23,040 for a family of four, 13 units are set at 40% AMI ($30,720 for a family of four), 120 units are set at 60% AMI ($46,080 for a family of four), with one of the units set aside for the superintendent. Fifty-six of the co-op units have been sold to date. Of the 71 co-op units, five are reserved for households earning a max of 80% AMI ($61,450 for a family of 4), 39 units are set at 150% AMI ($115,200 for a family of 4), 26 units are set at 175% AMI ($134,400 for a family of 4)

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