Seniors and the disabled in two CenterLight independent-living apartment buildings in Bronx Park East have newly renovated digs.
The leadership of CenterLight Health System, along with elected and appointed officials and clergy, held a renovation celebration on Wednesday, December 3 after completion of improvements to about 250 apartments and two buildings on Barker Avenue, the Scheuer Gardens and Scheuer Plaza.
The fully occupied apartment buildings, providing affordable apartments for seniors and the disabled as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 202 supportive housing program, were built in the 1980s. They benefited from a $10 million renovation.
The festive celebration included remarks by CenterLight CEO Michael Fassler, and from senior vice-president Stephen Mann, who coordinated the renovation. Remarks were also made by CenterLight executive vice-president Paul Rosenfeld, and a resident in the building, Jessica Champagnie.
“The building was 30 years old, and if something is 30 years old, it needs a touch up,” said Fassler in his remarks at the celebration in Scheuer Gardens, adding the renovation “was about how to make a better environment for the people living in this building.”
Fassler said that the upgrades to the buildings occurred over a 14-month period, while the residents continued to occupy their apartments.
Among the improvements are new kitchen fixtures, windows and gym rooms, as well as enhancements and renovations to a game room, lobbies, the exteriors of the buildings, and roof terrace. There were also new garden plantings.
Elected officials gave their seal of approval to the renovations and to CenterLight, formerly Beth Abraham, in general, as a provider of long-term care, housing, and rehabilitative services. Speaking were Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, and Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene.
Klein said that CenterLight has been a leader in long-term care over the years.
“It is an institution that deserves praise, an institution that never forgets its roots, and an institution that will always grow in Bronx county,” said Klein.
The buildings are assets to the borough because they take in seniors and the disabled, said Greene, who called the need for such housing in the Bronx “phenomenal” and who thanked CenterLight for caring for the senior community.
Gjnoaj congratulated CenterLight for not only going above and beyond what was expected, but working to give seniors more.
Champagnie, a resident of 2540 Barker Avenue, became disabled after being shot in the back by a stray bullet during a basketball tournament.
She recalled the challenges she faced in finding an affordable apartment that was wheelchair accessible after receiving her rehabilitation at Beth Abraham. She added that she is able to live independently in the apartment building, and is now completing college.
CenterLight financed the improvements through investors who received off-sets to their federal tax liabilities, officials representing the organization said. They added that in exchange for the tax credits, the investors agreed to keep the buildings affordable for the next 30 years.