Via Verde groundbreaking a milestone

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan were among the many distinguished guests on hand for the ground breaking of Via Verde, which contains the 100,000th unit of affordable housing financed through the city’s housing plan since 2003.

The city is on track to reach the goal set forth in its New Housing Marketplace Plan, the creation and preservation of 165,000 affordable housing units for by 2014. Bloomberg made the announcement at a ground breaking for Via Verde (Green Way), a $99 million mixed-income rental and homeownership development at 700 Brook Avenue.

The ground breaking ceremony on Monday, May 3 was a chance to highlight the achievements that the administration reached in terms building and maintaining affordable housing. Bloomberg was joined at Via Verde by Congressman Jose Serrano, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Housing Development Corporation president Marc Jahr, City Planning Commission chair Amanda Burden and the project developers, Jonathan Rose Companies president Jonathan Rose and Phipps Houses president and CEO Adam Weinstein.

“By achieving 100,000 affordable housing units, we are helping 100,000 New York City families live in, and contribute to, the greatest city in the world,” Bloomberg said. “We view providing affordable housing opportunities to New Yorkers with diverse incomes and needs as fundamental to our city’s long term economic prosperity, and we have no intention of slowing down now. Since the start of the national recession, we have financed more affordable units, nearly 17,000, than any other U.S. city or state. Our administration is on track to build and preserve affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by 2014, and we are as committed as ever to getting it done.”

The Via Verde development is a joint venture among the city, Jonathan Rose Companies and Phipps Housing Services. It will supply 150 units of low-income rental housing and 71 affordable co-op units with retail, community and outdoor recreational space. At the heart of the project are a series of gardens that begin in the courtyard then spiral up through a series of landscaped green roofs. The project will be built on a vacant 1.5 acre site at East 156th Street and Brook Avenue, in walking distance of the Hub. The development will create more than 900 construction-related jobs.

Borough President Diaz took the opportunity to speak about the importance of having gardens and green roofs were the residents would be afforded the opportunity to grow fresh vegetables and learn about the environment.

Once a rail yard and a gas station, the Via Verde site will be a fully-remediated brownfield when the project is complete. Via Verde offers 40,000 square feet of open space including. The gardens are multifunctional, creating opportunities for active gardening, fruit and vegetable creation, relaxation and social gathering. In addition, green landscaping will be incorporated into a children’s play area, and rainwater at Via Verde will be collected in retention tanks and recycled for on-site irrigation of plants and gardens. The building plan also boasts an amphitheater.

Via Verde’s design has obtained LEED Gold certification for being eco-friendly.

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