NYCHA to make massive upgrades to Edenwald Houses

Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 2.51.27 PM
Current (left) and proposed rendering (right) of large-scale renovations to the Edenwald Houses in the Bronx.
Photo courtesy NYCHA

One of the Bronx’s oldest and largest housing projects is getting set for a major makeover in 2023.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is planning $445 million worth of renovations for the apartments at Edenwald Houses in the northeast section of the borough, through a program that uses public-private partnerships to convert more than 9,500 public housing units, including the neighboring Baychester Houses.

In 2018, Baychester Houses were turned from public housing into Section 8, a federal housing subsidy program, and included a $40 million renovation of the property, according to the housing authority.

According to an NYCHA spokesperson, the project will impact nearly 4,800 residents and more than 2,000 apartments.

For decades, octogenrian Mae Richardson has lived in the Edenwald Houses — a development that was established in 1953 and incorporates the Laconia and Eastchester neighborhoods — and said that the near-70-year-old building has needed repairs and upgrades for “a while.”

The projects comprise 40 residential buildings spread across 48 acres.

“I’ve lived here since the ’70s and the infrastructure hasn’t changed in that time and I know that we’ve been yelling about needing upgrades to some of the commons spaces,” said Richardson, who is one of 5,000 residents living in the Edenwald portfolio.

Based on renderings, the Edenwald rehabilitation project will include improvements to building envelopes, mechanical systems, and individual units with particular focus on energy efficiency, the creation of quality housing, and reducing the portfolio’s overall carbon emissions.

The project will also deliver a fully renovated senior center, new laundry facilities, improved waste management, and exterior site improvements including security, paved walkways, and outdoor green spaces, according to NYCHA.

The Edenwald Houses, some tenants say, hasn’t been given the fairest treatment or investment from the city, however.

Tenants like Delano Royce, 30, told the Bronx Times that when the NYPD began conducting raids at the Edenwald Houses — a 2016 raid in the Edenwald Houses and Eastchester Gardens led to the arrest of 87 individuals with 120 charged, all of whom were members of two rival gangs — it left an unfair black mark on the Edenwald House residents.

“This area gets a lot of mess because of the raid and we get seen as this janky project building, when really most of us just trying to live in New York City affordably,” he said. “But when you have the cops staking out the building on the regular and your building is associated with gangs — it’s like we’re a sunken cost to the city.”

NYCHA owns the Edenwald Houses plot and will administer the Section 8 subsidy, set rents, manage the wait-list for vacant apartments, and address conditions at the development.

But residents like Royce will be allowed to provide their input on the Edenwald rehabilitation project.

NYCHA’s project partners include Camber Property Group, Henge Development, and SAA|EVI Development, who according to NYCHA, will engage with current residents and community groups to refine all renovation plans.

The selected project team will use the Rental Assistance Demonstration program to transition operating subsidies to the Project-Based Section 8 program and finance the 20-year capital needs at the development.

“The selection of this development team, and the process used for that selection, highlight the important changes NYCHA continues to make to improve the PACT program in partnership with its residents,” said Vicki Been, deputy mayor for housing and economic development.

The selected project partners will be responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of the development.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.

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