Organization Name: Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation
Project Title: Intervale Green
Project Location: Crotona Park East, South Bronx
Intervale Green (IG) was built between 2006 and 2008 and opened in 2009 on an abandoned lot in the South Bronx neighborhood where President Carter’s historic 1977 visit shed light on the urban blight and devastation in the borough. Located in the nation’s poorest urban Congressional District, IG is proof that a mission-driven nonprofit can create affordable homes without compromising environmental standards or beautiful design. It is among the largest Energy Star-certified multifamily high-rises in the United States. Enveloped by a half-acre of green roofs and landscaped gardens, IG is changing perceptions about affordable housing. IG has a 2,000 sq. ft. rooftop urban farm and produces over 1,000lbs of fresh produce each year for residents. IG provides a uniquely housing-based solution to food inequity and access issues in a community where grocery stores are sparse and the median household income is just $21,000 per year, making healthy, fresh food out of reach for most families.
IG features 128 affordable 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments for formerly homeless families and households earning less than 60% of AMI. This 147,815 sq. ft. development, to which WHEDco won development rights via a New York City RFP in 2005, includes 130,175 sq. ft. of residential space, 7,653 sq. ft. of program/commercial space, and 9,987 of cellar/mechanical rooms. IG was designed with an emphasis on aesthetics and affordability. Respecting the Bronx’s architectural legacy, this $39MM development features red brick, decorative cornices, stone and ironwork, and multiple courtyards. The common areas display Italian tile, wood, and marble, while apartments boast sconces, pendant lighting and high-end ceramic kitchen backsplashes. The green roof hosts a farm and reduces storm water runoff, capturing hundreds of gallons of storm water that would otherwise contribute to sewer overflow. It also absorbs solar radiation, helping the building remain cooler and reducing air-conditioning use.
For residents, living in a building where food is grown just a few flights up, where they can learn to manage dirt, composting, and seeds, and where children can taste herbs, fruits, and vegetables that they have never tried before, the impact is remarkable.
Since 2010, residents have had access to the farm, whether consistently tending their own plots, lending a hand in communal sections, or occa- sionally participating in garden events. Even if residents are not inclined to farm or do not have time, they still have access. Each week, all residents are presented in the lobby with free, fresh produce along with recipes and cooking demonstrations to easily make a meal. A dedicated farm manager, focused specifically on the needs of residents develops these programs to engage and educate residents—including children—over the long-term and supports their work. IG’s rooftop urban farm is a tremendous asset to residents and is an exceptional way to address inequity in our communities.
WHEDco was founded in 1991 by President Nancy Biberman, who envi- sioned renovating the long-abandoned Morrisania Hospital in order to provide low-income women and children with affordable homes and intercon- nected, high-quality solutions to the obstacles they face. WHEDco works to make the Bronx more beautiful, equitable, and economically vibrant. We are based in an area that has suffered from decades of disinvestment and neglect, afflicted with chronic negative imagery, symbolized by burned-out abandoned buildings, that reaches deep into the psyche of residents. Informed by the area’s rich cultural, social and economic history, and drawing on its assets, WHEDco works to restore pride of place, reverse stereotypes, empower residents, and make neighborhoods livable and healthy. In addition to Intervale Green, WHEDco has developed Urban Horizons (132 units for formerly homeless and low-income families) and will break ground on Bronx Commons (300+ units and the Bronx Music Hall) in 2017.