Public and Private Partnership Develops Affordable Mixed-Income Building for Jamaica, Queens

Image Credit: GF55 Partners/HPD

The new building will have a variety of amenities and 111 parking spaces for residents. On February 12, 2019, HPD and HDC announced the completion of Alvista Towers, a 380-unit, affordable housing development in Jamaica, Queens. City agencies and private sector firms came together to develop this project as part of the City’s affordable housing initiative. The involved parties were the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Council Member I. Daneek Miller, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Phoenix Realty Group, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Settlement Housing Fund, the New York City Housing Partnership, and Artimus as the developer of the project. The development was the result of the Special Downtown Jamaica Rezoning, which was adopted by the City in 2007 to foster transit-oriented development in Jamaica.

Alvista Towers will be a 360,000 square feet mixed-income affordable housing development with 380 units, 95 of which will be permanently affordable for low-income households under the Inclusionary Housing Program. The development will also have 110 units for moderate-income households, and 174 units for middle-income households at various income tiers. The development’s amenities will include a 24-hour attended lobby, bicycle room, lounge, terrace, fitness center, yoga room, business center, children’s playroom, rooftop, and 111 parking spaces.

The development is also energy-efficient and was designed by GF55 Partners to adhere to the Enterprise Green Communities Standards. The standards are a comprehensive green building framework designed for affordable housing, providing cost-effective standards for energy-efficient homes.

The $160 million development was financed through a mix of public and private investment pursuant to HPD’s and HDC’s M2 program. The Mixed Middle Income M2 program is a Housing NYC program that funds the construction of new multi-family rental housing for low-, moderate- and middle-income families earning up to 165 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). The M2 program requires that 20 percent of the units are set aside for low-income households earning less than 50 percent of the AMI, with at least 15 percent set aside for those earning less than 40 percent of the AMI. At least 30 percent of the units are set aside for moderate-income households earning between 80 percent and 100 percent of the AMI. No more than 50 percent of the units are set aside for middle-income households earning between 130 percent and 165 percent of AMI.

Through the M2 program, the Alvista Towers development was financed through a mix of public and private investments from HPD, HDC, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs. HPD contributed approximately $30.4 million in City subsidy to the project. HDC contributed more than $22.1 million in tax-exempt bonds, $30.4 million in corporate reserves, and a $43.5 million conventional loan through Wells Fargo. Goldman Sachs was the tax credit investor of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) for the project. This investment generated more than $13.9 million in tax credit equity for the project.

The Alvista Towers development was the first new construction development in the country to participate in the Federal Financing Bank Pilot Program. The program is a recently expired risk-sharing program that reduced borrowing cost, saves taxpayer dollars, and improves affordability for tenants. The program has helped to financed more than 3,000 affordable homes in the City.

“Through the Mayor’s Housing New York plan, we are producing more new affordable housing than at any time in HPD’s history, creating opportunity for more of our city’s hard-working families and lasting assets for our communities. Alvista Towers provides 380 high-quality affordable homes – 95 of which will be permanently affordable – to families at a range of incomes in a beautifully designed, energy-efficient development that will add to the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.

Council Member I. Daneek Miller noted the development’s partnership between government and private enterprises and its benefits for Southeast Queens. He states that “we worked collaboratively to ensure that all aspects of this project would tap into the vast resources of our community – embodied best by our human capital and M/WBEs – and residents whose roots lie in the District would be given primary consideration for residing in its 380 mixed-income housing units.”

By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is a CityLaw Intern and a New York Law School Student, Class of 2019).


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