Breaking Ground ‘tops off’ Webster Ave. building

(l-r) Dave Beer of Breaking Ground; Rick Cook, from CookFox Architects; Brenda Rosen, CEO, Breaking Ground; Fabian Ramirez of Capital One and Blanca Ramirez of Hudson Housing Capital.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

An organization providing supportive housing held a ‘topping off’ ceremony on one its newest buildings.

Members of the organization Breaking Ground celebrated the completion of the framework on one of two adjacent buildings it plans to open in 2018 to service both formerly homeless people and those in need of affordable housing.

The ceremony took place on Tuesday, April 25 at 1974 Webster Avenue, which Brenda Rosen, Breaking Ground CEO, said is slated to open in January 2018.

The Webster Avenue building, which is eight stories tall and contains a 101,860 square feet, will provide 170 units of affordable housing with support services for formerly homeless people and housing for low-income working individuals, said Rosen.

“This particular building will support 170 units and is located in an area (where) the community has asked for housing,” she said.

An adjacent building at 4275 Park Avenue, will feature 248-units of affordable housing over 12 stories, and will mainly feature two-bedroom and three-bedroom units for families, said Rosen.

That building, known as Park House, contains 243,760 square feet and is expected to get a temporary certificate of occupancy by summer of 2018, she said.

The Webster Avenue building will have a mix of support services for the formerly homeless, including case management, primary medical care, financial literacy, cooking classes, gardening and outdoor activities.

“Whatever people are interested in that will be beneficial to their health and well-being we try to accommodate,” said Rosen.

The activities in the building will be available to all residents and will center on self-sufficiency, she said.

“All of this is built around helping you get back on your feet and to stay on your feet,” said Rosen.

The architectural firm COOKFOX designed the buildings, and even their designs promote well being.

For example, she said, they accentuate natural light, which has been scientifically proven to stimulate mental health.

“One of the priorities for Breaking Ground in building supportive housing is to have a strong eye towards design,” she said, adding that it is design that fits into the community and promotes health and well-being.

Rosen acknowledged that often when people hear about supportive housing or a building built on a budget for low-income people, they often think of an institutional setting or one with “chaos.”

“What we demonstrate that it will be the absolute opposite of that,” she said, adding “It will be beautiful and well run and will fit right in with the community.”

A spokesman for Councilman Ritchie Torres said that “the councilman is looking forward to engaging with Breaking Ground as the project develops.”

John Sanchez, Community Board 6 district manager said that he wasn’t familiar with the specifics of the project because it was already in the works before he started his position.

Generally speaking, said Sanchez, community members are concerned with a proliferation of homeless shelters in CB 6, which has the highest concentration of shelters of any borough board.

Permanent housing, on the other hand, is what the community wants, he said.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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