Foundation laid for Morris Heights Health Center complex

Morris Heights Health Center’s new low-income senior housing and medical complex won’t open until 2010. More than 200 New Yorkers have already applied to live at Harrison Circle. Photo courtesy of Morris Heights Health Center

Excavations are nearly complete at the site of Morris Heights Health Center’s new mixed-use residential and medical facility. Harrison Circle will accommodate 40 dwelling units for low-income seniors and several clinical areas. Construction on the $45 million project began this February.

“We’re going to start erecting steel on the site in two weeks,” said Terjesen Associates architect Rich Pierce, project manager. “We’ve run into a bit of water, and a bit more rock that we anticipated. But this is the Bronx. There’s rock everywhere.”

According to Judith Fairweather, vice president of planning and compliance for MHHC, Harrison Circle is fully funded. The U.S. Department of Urban Development has agreed to finance much of the project’s $19.3 million residential wing.

Higher rents and market rate apartments are squeezing southwest Bronx seniors out of housing. MHHC hopes to relieve some of that pressure, even as Morris Heights prepares for a nationwide economic downturn.

“Harrison Circle grew out of our 2004 strategic plan,” Fairweather said. “We asked, ‘What can we bring to the community?’ We can bring expertise in healthcare. But we can also address the growing concern of affordable housing for the elderly.”

MHHC has already received 200-plus applications from seniors who’d like to live at Harrison Circle. Next June, the 27-year old non-profit will launch a publicity campaign throughout New York City, as stipulated by HUD.

In exchange for HUD funds, MHHC has also agreed to provide Harrison Circle residents with supplemental and complimentary medical services including health education, access to public benefits and case management.

“Combined, these apartments and our new medical facility will allow us to serve elderly patients comprehensively. We look at health as more than ‘Seeing a doctor today.’ It’s mental wellbeing too. And it’s housing.”

HUD isn’t Harrison Circle’s only funder. On the residential side, city Department of Housing Preservation and Development tax credits will cover building cost increases related to inflation. Enterprise Community Partners will syndicate the tax credits, worth $8.3 million.

MHHC’s bid for concurrent HUD Section 202 and HPD support was the first of its kind in the state, Fairweather said. HPD has backed a number of other Section 202 projects since.

“This has opened the floodgates,” Enterprise Director Keith Fairey said. “Hundred of developments will be built on the heels of this one. It’s a new model for affordable senior housing.”

The City Council has committed $9.2 million to Harrison Circle’s medical facility, and the Borough President’s office $4 million. Harrison Circle will tap $650,000 in private financing and $500,000 in Congressional allegations as well.

In February, MHHC was seeking an additional $8.5 million. A grant from the State Assembly’s New York City capital grant program closed that gap.

Harrison Circle’s medical wing will be three stories and its apartment component five stories, stylistically distinct but sharing a single foundation.

MHHC assists more than 48,000 patients annually at five locations across the Bronx and maintains school-based health centers in four public schools. According to MHHC, Harrison Circle will treat around 30,000 non-resident patients.

The complex, slated for completion in March 2010, will also include a 9,000-foot commercial space. MHHC expects to lease the space to a retail pharmacy.

Wall Street’s woes, Fairweather said, will likely hurt Morris Heights.

“We anticipate more people qualifying for public housing, and more people coming to us without health insurance.”

Fairweather believes the project’s funds are safe, though.

“Located between MHHC and the Mount Hope Housing Company – two pillars in the community, Harrison Circle will be a beacon in the Bronx,” Fairey said.

Excavations are nearly complete at the site of Morris Heights Health Center’s new mixed-use residential and medical facility. Harrison Circle will accommodate 40 dwelling units for low-income seniors and several clinical areas. Construction on the $45 million project began this February.

“We’re going to start erecting steel on the site in two weeks,” said Terjesen Associates architect Rich Pierce, project manager. “We’ve run into a bit of water, and a bit more rock that we anticipated. But this is the Bronx. There’s rock everywhere.”

According to Judith Fairweather, vice president of planning and compliance for MHHC, Harrison Circle is fully funded. The U.S. Department of Urban Development has agreed to finance much of the project’s $19.3 million residential wing.

Higher rents and market rate apartments are squeezing southwest Bronx seniors out of housing. MHHC hopes to relieve some of that pressure, even as Morris Heights prepares for a nationwide economic downturn.

“Harrison Circle grew out of our 2004 strategic plan,” Fairweather said. “We asked, ‘What can we bring to the community?’ We can bring expertise in healthcare. But we can also address the growing concern of affordable housing for the elderly.”

MHHC has already received 200-plus applications from seniors who’d like to live at Harrison Circle. Next June, the 27-year old non-profit will launch a publicity campaign throughout New York City, as stipulated by HUD.

In exchange for HUD funds, MHHC has also agreed to provide Harrison Circle residents with supplemental and complimentary medical services including health education, access to public benefits and case management.

“Combined, these apartments and our new medical facility will allow us to serve elderly patients comprehensively. We look at health as more than ‘Seeing a doctor today.’ It’s mental wellbeing too. And it’s housing.”

HUD isn’t Harrison Circle’s only funder. On the residential side, city Department of Housing Preservation and Development tax credits will cover building cost increases related to inflation. Enterprise Community Partners will syndicate the tax credits, worth $8.3 million.

MHHC’s bid for concurrent HUD Section 202 and HPD support was the first of its kind in the state, Fairweather said. HPD has backed a number of other Section 202 projects since.

“This has opened the floodgates,” Enterprise Director Keith Fairey said. “Hundred of developments will be built on the heels of this one. It’s a new model for affordable senior housing.”

The City Council has committed $9.2 million to Harrison Circle’s medical facility, and the Borough President’s office $4 million. Harrison Circle will tap $650,000 in private financing and $500,000 in Congressional allegations as well.

In February, MHHC was seeking an additional $8.5 million. A grant from the State Assembly’s New York City capital grant program closed that gap.

Harrison Circle’s medical wing will be three stories and its apartment component five stories, stylistically distinct but sharing a single foundation.

MHHC assists more than 48,000 patients annually at five locations across the Bronx and maintains school-based health centers in four public schools. According to MHHC, Harrison Circle will treat around 30,000 non-resident patients.

The complex, slated for completion in March 2010, will also include a 9,000-foot commercial space. MHHC expects to lease the space to a retail pharmacy.

Wall Street’s woes, Fairweather said, will likely hurt Morris Heights.

“We anticipate more people qualifying for public housing, and more people coming to us without health insurance.”

Fairweather believes the project’s funds are safe, though.

“Located between MHHC and the Mount Hope Housing Company – two pillars in the community, Harrison Circle will be a beacon in the Bronx,” Fairey said.

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