New Affordable Housing for Artists Open for Application

View of P.S. 109 pre-construction. Image credit: Artspace.

View of P.S. 109 pre-construction. Image credit: Artspace.

Former public school has been transformed into affordable housing complex for artists. Artspace P.S. 109 is a 90-unit affordable housing complex that formerly served as an underutilized school building located in 215 East 99th Street in East Harlem, Manhattan. P.S 109 is an 1898 Gothic Revival-style structure that is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The redeveloped school consists of 92,580 gross sq. ft. of residential space and 12,997 gross sq. ft. for community uses, which includes a new art gallery, performance space, not-for-profit office space, community kitchen, and community garden. Preference will be given to artists for tenant selection, but applications are currently open to all. Fifty percent of the homes are being reserved for current East Harlem residents. The apartment unit distribution will include 50 studios, 18 one-bedroom apartments, and 21 two-bedroom apartments. Eighteen units will be set at 40 percent of AMI, which amounts to $33,200 for a family of four, and 71 units will be set at 60 percent of AMI, which amounts to $49,800 for a family of four. According to Artspace, each unit has approximately 100 to 150 units of extra space that artists can use as a studio.

The project to transform P.S. 109 into affordable housing and community space was organized by Artspace, a Minnesota-based non-profit, and El Barrio’s Operation Fightback, the local affordable housing group in East Harlem. Artspace purchased the school from the New York City Department of Education in 2012 for $1. In a 2012 press release, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, now Council Speaker, stated, “This innovative project will help solidify El Barrio/East Harlem’s place as a cultural destination that celebrates the arts and the incredible contributions that artists make to our community.”

The total development cost for the project is $52.2 million. The project is being funded by tax credits and $4.4 million from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, as well as federal and state historic tax credits. The project also received more than $24 million in tax credit equity from Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, Inc. Additional funding is being provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York City Council, Capital One Bank, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Art Place, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Deutsche Bank, and the New York Community Trust.

Applications for the Artspace P.S. 109 are currently being accepted, and residents are expected to be able to move in as early as October 2014.

By: Jennifer Baek (Jennifer is a CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2013).

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