pr_10-30-2014

New York City And State Housing Officials Join The Bluestone Organization And Partners To Celebrate The Grand Opening Of New Affordable Housing In Jamaica, Queens

Norman Towers, a New Energy-Efficient Development Features State-of-the-Art Central Air, Heating, and Lighting Systems that Includes the Use of a Gas Fired Cogeneration System and Solar Panels

Jamaica, Queens, N.Y. – The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), New York State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) joined The Bluestone Organization and partners to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of 161st Street Apartments, also known as Norman Towers, located at 90-14 161st Street, in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens. Norman Towers is a mixed-income development with 100 apartments, ground floor commercial space, and new office space that now serves as the Bluestone Organization’s main office. The new development features a number of energy-efficient features designed to reduce the building’s carbon footprint as well as the building’s operating costs which help to improve its long-term sustainability and affordability.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns said, “Norman Towers realizes the goals of the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council priorities, to strategically strengthen community successes. This mixed-income development fulfills Jamaica’s role as a vibrant hub for communities and commercial enterprises. Today is a testament to the hard work of our public and private partners which brought us to this day that celebrates Jamaica’s greatness and prominent role in this City’s future.”

“Norman Towers is a great addition to this bustling neighborhood of Jamaica, which is one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the City and perhaps in the country,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “Building and preserving affordable housing that is diverse and inclusive contributes to the strength and stability of neighborhoods everywhere across the five boroughs. Thank you to the Bluestone Organization, the Greater Jamaica LDC – which has been building this community for decades – HDC, HCR and my team at HPD, our elected officials and Goldman Sachs, for their incredibly important investment.”

Gary Rodney, President of HDC said: “Today we officially welcome the tenants of Norman Towers to their homes and acknowledge the inspired, expert and committed work of our team at HDC and HPD.  This development is economically diverse, and adheres to sound energy efficient and sustainable construction practices and services.  I salute the strong spirit of collaboration that is a hallmark of this project and thank all of our partners including our long standing partners at The Bluestone Organization, the New York State Homes & Community Renewal, our local elected officials, the Greater Jamaica LDC, and Goldman Sachs for their dedication and leadership in bringing this development to fruition.”

Ira Lichtiger, a partner of The Bluestone Organization, said: “The Bluestone Organization, a third-generation family business, has moved its corporate headquarters into Jamaica, opening its new office at Norman Towers, which is named in memory of second generation principal Norman Bluestone. Our family and staff are thrilled to have completed this exciting new project in Downtown Jamaica.  Providing affordable mixed income housing and economic development opportunities through sustainable and environmentally conscious development has always been our core mission.  In addition, having incorporated our new corporate headquarters into this building makes this project especially meaningful.”

“Downtown Jamaica is back-- and on its way up! We welcome Norman Towers, a model development -- mixed-income affordable housing, a new restaurant in a beautifully designed building.  Norman Towers will utilize Jamaica’s attributes and bring new jobs. It will contribute to livability here,” said Carlisle Towery, President of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. “Jamaica is the beneficiary of financial assistance for Norman Towers from Governor Cuomo’s Regional Council, tax-exempt bonds, subsidies and tax credits from the City’s Housing Development Corporation and the department of Housing Preservation and Development.  GJDC appreciates the leadership of Goldman Sachs; special financial support from the offices of the Queens Borough President, Councilmen Leroy Comrie and James Gennaro.”

The Norman Towers development consists of two nine-story elevator serviced towers built over a connecting cellar. There are a total of seven studios, 72 one-bedroom units and 21 two-bedroom units. There is also a two-bedroom unit for a superintendent. Norman Towers also includes 5,773 gross-square-feet of commercial space, 4,063 gross-square-feet of retail space and 51 parking spaces. The new office space now serves as the Bluestone Organization’s headquarters.

The sustainable design features in the Norman Towers development includes a cogeneration system that will use a natural gas-fueled engine to generate electricity that will be distributed throughout the building. The excess heat by-product of the electricity generation will be captured and reused to heat the building’s water heaters and boilers. The buildings’ energy stores will be supplemented by the solar photovoltaic electricity system on the roofs of the two towers. The buildings also feature custom designed roof gardens with pavers which are designed to be eco-friendly by retaining rain water on-site for irrigation and also lowering the level of heat at the roof during the summer months. Every apartment features Energy Star appliances and lighting, low-emission windows, and an advanced climate control system that is whisper quiet and energy efficient.

Norman Towers promotes income diversity by providing affordable housing to New Yorkers at a broad range of income levels. Three apartments are affordable to tenants earning up to 40% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or no more than $33,200 annually for a family of four. Seventeen apartments serve households earning up to 50% AMI, or no more than $41,500 annually for a family of four. Thirty-seven apartments are affordable to households earning up to 90% AMI, or no more than $74,700 annually for a family of four. The remaining 43 units are available to households earning up to 160% AMI, or no more than $134,240 for a family of four. AMI levels are calculated annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Income levels for this development are set by HUD’s 2012 calculations.

“Mixed income housing such as Norman Towers is critical in revitalizing neighborhoods within New York City,” said Margaret Anadu, Managing Director in the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group.  “We are thrilled to be a partner in this development here in Queens as a continuation of our investments in underserved communities across the five boroughs.”

This newly constructed development benefitted from strong public and private investment and support, including a $3.78 million award it received as part of the first round of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. In the three years since Governor Cuomo created the Regional Councils, more than $2 billion has been awarded for community development and job creation.

The total development cost is approximately $32.2 million. HDC issued $16.32 million in tax-exempt bonds and $4.6 in subsidy toward construction financing. HDC also provided $9.1 million in tax-exempt bonds and $6.56 million in subsidy under the Corporation’s Mixed-Income Program in permanent financing. HPD provided approximately $2 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and $6 million in 421a Funds. The Queens Borough President’s office and then-Council Member Leroy Comrie each contributed $1 million; Former Council Member James Gennaro contributed $300,000 in Reso A funds to the project. The developer is providing $2.28 million of its own equity during construction. The Bluestone Organization purchased the site from the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for $1.6 million in August of 2008. The project benefits from an Inclusionary Housing bonus as it is located in downtown Jamaica, Queens. Goldman Sachs is the tax credit investor for this project and provided the lender with credit enhancement.

The New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal’s Low-Income Housing Credit Program (LIHC) provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income tax liability for project owners who develop rental housing that serves low-income households with incomes up to 60% of area median income. The amount of LIHC available to project owners is directly related to the number of low-income housing units that they provide.

The application period for Norman Towers is currently closed. The City of New York requires that all city-subsidized apartments be rented through an Open Lottery System to ensure fair and equitable distribution of housing to eligible applicants. Marketing of the apartments and the application process for the lottery typically begin when construction is approximately 70 percent complete. For more information regarding the lottery process or if you would like to receive an e-mail when HPD updates its available apartment and home website listings for City-subsidized housing in the five boroughs, please visit the Apartment Seekers and Homebuyers pages at www.nyc.gov. Current housing lotteries are also available at www.nyc.gov/housingconnect. Applicants may submit either a paper application or an electronic application. Duplicate applications will be disqualified.

About New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR):

New York State Homes and Community Renewal consists of all the State's major housing and community renewal agencies, including the Affordable Housing Corporation, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the Housing Finance Agency, State of New York Mortgage Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation and others.  HCR is in the second year of Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion House New York program, which creates thousands of new units over five years, and is the largest investment in affordable housing in at least 15 years. House New York will also preserve thousands of Mitchell-Lama units, extending affordability for 40 years. The House New York initiative builds on the successes of unprecedented efforts to protect more than two million rent-regulated tenants, with the greatest strengthening of the state’s rent laws in 30 years, along with the creation of the Tenant Protection Unit which proactively audits and investigates landlord wrongdoing.

About The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):

HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs, and enforcement of housing quality standards. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable units for New Yorkers at the very lowest incomes to those in the middle class. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/nychpd  and www.twitter.com/nychousing.

About The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC):

HDC is the nation’s largest municipal Housing Finance Agency and is charged with helping to finance the creation or preservation of affordable housing under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan.  Since 2000, HDC has issued roughly 10% of all the multi-family housing revenue bonds in the U.S. and since 2003 HDC has financed 122,513 housing units using over $13.7 billion in bonds, and provided in excess of $1.5 billion in subsidy from corporate reserves. HDC is the #1 issuer in the nation of mortgage revenue bonds for affordable multi-family housing in eight of the last ten years (2013, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, & 2004). HDC bonds are rated Aa2/AA+ by Moody's and S&P.  In Affordable Housing Finance magazine’s annual listing of the nation’s top ten funders of multi-family housing, HDC is the only municipal entity on the list. In 2013, HDC was the third largest affordable housing lender in the U.S. after Citi and Wells Fargo, beating out Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Capital One. Multi-family buildings financed by HDC contain more than 1.7 million square feet of commercial space. For additional information, visit: www.nychdc.com.

About The Bluestone Organization:

The Bluestone Organization is a Queens-based third generation family-owned developer of over 5,000 units of housing in the New York City metropolitan area over the past 85 years, including work force rental and homeownership units in conjunction with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, NYC Housing Development Corporation and NYC Housing Partnership, and the NY State Housing Finance Agency, Affordable Housing Corporation and Homes and Community Renewal.  The firm has a proven track record of quality in design and construction, winning many local, state and national awards including most recently, the 2010 New York Housing Conference Private Developer of the Year Award, and The Andrew, recently completed in Rego Park Queens, was designated as “best performing building in a multifamily new construction four stories or greater” in New York State.