By: Stephen Merrill Smith, J.D.
In late June, the Partnership’s eblast focused on six projects in New York City that are receiving attention for their size and architectural design.
Here is our summary of the six 2019 Big Apple Brownfield Award (BABA) winning projects, located in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Each project is worthy of attention and praise because of their positive social and environmental impacts in their communities as well as their economic development impact.
Presenting the awards at the Eleventh Annual BABAs were: Mari Cate Conlon of Haley & Aldrich, Inc., Michele Rogers of Blue World Construction, and Victoria Whelan of Preferred Environmental.
The 2019 SUPPORTIVE/AFFORDABLE HOUSING AWARD was presented to the project, Reaching New Heights Residence and the Apartments at Landing Road in the Bronx. By co-developing a shelter and housing facility in one effort, Bowery Residents’ Committee achieved two goals at once. They use the surplus revenue paid by the city to operate the shelter part of the building and reinvest it by subsidizing the rents of the housing units above. This once vacant lot, which was remediated through OER’s E-Designation program, is now a lovely building that all residents are proud to call home. The development team, which is made up of Bowery Residents’ Committee, Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects, GZA Geo-Environmental, and Leonard J. Strandberg and Associates, created a game-changing building that combines permanent affordable housing and a shelter for the homeless all in one project.
The 2019 BROWNFIELD OPPORTUNITY AREA (BOA) CONNECTIVITY AWARD was presented to Pitkin-Berriman’s development located in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, a 35-year-old community-based organization, transformed this formerly vacant lot into a seven-story, mixed-use building with 60 affordable housing units, a senior day center, ground floor community space, and open space comprised of a playground, gardens, and walkways. The project team, which also included Heitler Houstoun Architects, worked with the Department of City Planning to rezone the site and also worked with OER to remediate the site through their Voluntary Cleanup Program.
The 2019 COMMUNITY OUTREACH AWARD was presented to Melrose Commons Supportive Housing – also in the Bronx. This previously abandoned property was developed into a nine-story permanent supportive housing building by The Bridge, one of NYC’s most experienced and comprehensive human services organizations. The new building’s 58 fully-furnished studio apartments house formerly homeless adults with special needs including veterans. The project team, consisting of The Bridge, Magnusson Architecture and Planning, the J. Pilla Group, A. Larovere Consulting, Sherman Law, AKRF, and Bright Power, successfully navigated OER’s E-Designation program to implement green development. This emphasis on green development earned the team an Enterprise Green Communities grant as well as Reso A funding from the Bronx Borough President.
The 2019 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AWARD was presented to Oak Point Property – also in the Bronx. Construction of the site created more than 300 short-term jobs and more than 200 permanent jobs at the Jetro/Restaurant Depot facility and the McInnis USA 24/7 operational cement terminal. Prior to opening the commercial properties, the first round of employment opportunities were extended to the local community including many veterans who now hold living-wage jobs at the cement terminal. The shoreline greenway encompasses a portion of the Magic Mile, which is a proposed one-mile waterfront walkway with space for exercise, quiet reflection, fishing, games, historic exploration, and water activities. NYSDEC oversaw remediation of this once defunct and now thriving property. The team responsible for transforming this once illegal dumping ground includes Oak Point Property LLC, Pantheon Properties, Land Use Ecological Services, Phillip Habib & Associates, Jetro/Restaurant Depot, McInnis USA, AAL Construction Services LLC, and TRC Environmental Corporation.
The 2019 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AWARD was presented to Former Liberty Brass, aka the Sunnyside, located in Long Island City. Extraordinary measures were taken to remediate this vacant, former brass fitting manufacturing plant. This transformation in included the construction of a 12-story commercial building, which houses a Regal Theaters multiplex cinema, as well as 100,000 square feet of leasable office space. Plans are to lease the space to medical and non-profit tenants. The success of this project may be attributed to great communication among the project team and with NYSDEC to achieve the remedial requirements necessary to improve the environment of the site to a conditional Track 1 cleanup designation. The project team was made up of Curbcut Queens Boulevard, PW Grosser, Knauf Shaw LLP, and Sordoni Construction.
The 2019 GREEN BUILDING AWARD was presented to 3365 Third Avenue located in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. Developed by Bronx Pro Group, this will be the Bronx’s first certified Passive House project. The new eight-story, mixed-use building, which includes 30 affordable rental units and an early childhood education center, will have an energy reduction savings up to 90% when compared to conventionally-built structures. The design and construction of the building, by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects and C&S Construction, respectively, minimized environmental impacts and embraced green alternatives, which led the building to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. In addition, AKRF oversaw remediation of the site through OER’s Voluntary Cleanup Program. In large part to the Bronx Pro Group’s commitment to transitioning the Morrisania section of the Bronx from industrial use into a mixed-use community, a once vacant lot is now a beautiful new building that will serve the neighborhood for years to come.
If you missed the 2019 BABAs, you also missed the Partnership‘s presentation of the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Daniel C. Walsh. Dr. Walsh played an active role in implementing the NYS 2003 Brownfield Law and launching the state Brownfield Cleanup Program. In 2008, he was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as founding Director of the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. Recently retired from city work, Dr. Walsh is now working with students at Columbia University and establishing his own consulting firm to provide advisory services on land remediation and materials management.
Patrick Foster, Regional Attorney, NYSDEC, Region 2 provided the annual NYSDEC Update and Mark McIntyre, the current Director and General Counsel of the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation followed with the NYCOER update.
The Partnership then “paid it forward” by awarding $10,000 to seven undergraduate and graduate students pursuing environmental degrees.