Ground broke on Wednesday, May 22 on a 90-unit building that will offer affordable apartments at 555 Neried Avenue in the Wakefield community.
When completed, the building will have 54 studio apartments for veterans, according to non-profit developer The DOE Fund, as well as an additional 35 units that Community Board 12 was told would be available for lower-income seniors.
After years of controversy and delay over the future use and redevelopment of the former Joseph A. Muller Army Reserve Center, where the project is located, the new construction appears to be a welcome development, said George Torres, CB 12 district manager.
The project arose from a compromise agreement between community and elected officials after a proposal originating as early as 2010 to develop a 200-bed shelter at the location was strongly opposed by the community, according to previously published Bronx Times articles.
“I give a lot of credit to the DOE Fund and to our elected officials because they changed it (the plan),” said Torres, who added after the intended use changed from transitory to permanent housing and offered housing for veterans, the board voted to support the development.
“Overall, I think Woodlawn and Wakefield thought it was a winning compromise,” said Torres. “It would be no more than 90-units for formerly homeless veterans and for seniors, and it would be permanent housing.”
The district manager said the community’s willingness to take on the DOE Fund as partners was instrumental to getting the project underway, and that the groundbreaking speaks to The DOE Fund’s willingness to engage the community.
The building will include a live-in super who will have his or her own apartment, with some units set aside for local residents, according to the developer.
Interior construction on the four-story building is expected to be completed by 2021, and MHG Architects was responsible for the redesign.
The project turned into an incredible partnership with the community, which has resulted in a great endeavor, said Councilman Andrew Cohen.
“Across New York City there are veterans struggling to make ends meet after their tremendous contributions and sacrifices for our nation,” said Cohen. “So I am thrilled and thankful that The Doe Fund is breaking ground on a project that will provide permanent supportive and affordable housing for homeless veterans.”
Affordable housing is such a pressing need and scare resource, said Torres, who said that this need, along with senior housing, will be addressed with the development.
The building features 24-hour security, custodial staff, a bike room, and a private side yard for residents and their guests.
It also will have a 123-seat lecture hall and theater that will be available for community events, educational programming and cultural activities.
In a statement, The DOE Fund’s founder and president, George McDonald, said that they were grateful for the input of community members and all partners.
“We are deeply proud to transform the former Joseph A. Muller Center into 90 modern, beautiful, high-quality homes for people who desperately need stability,” said McDonald.