Organization Name: Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council
Project Title: Knickerbocker Commons
Project Location: 803 Knickerbocker Avenue (Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Knickerbocker Commons has pioneered a fusion of affordability and sustainability. In keeping with RBSCC’s core mission, Knickerbocker Commons delivers permanently affordable housing to the New Yorkers that need it most. But this project also seeks to raise the bar in affordable housing design and operations. Our building employs Passive House architecture and cutting-edge technology to carve out additional cost savings for our residents, within an exceptionally comfortable and healthy living environment. We intend that Knickerbocker Commons will demon- strate to the affordable housing development community that ecologi- cally conscious design can be achieved with no additional construction costs. In fact, it saves money in the long run by extending the building’s lifecycle and operating efficiency. Simultaneously, our cohesive tenant community, striking architectural aesthetic, and ground floor community space will enhance the lives of Bushwick residents for decades to come.
Knickerbocker Commons is New York State’s first 100% affordable multi- family building to be built and certified to the Passive House standard. The 24-unit building was built on vacant city land in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The 6 story building totals 34,581 sq. ft. The project, developed through HPD’s Low Income Rental Program, was recognized in Mayor de Blasio’s One City Built To Last as an innovative approach to reducing NYC’s carbon footprint. RBSCC has paved the way for future Passive House in affordable housing construction. Passive House is a rigorous design standard that utilizes energy recovery and air-sealing strategies to regu- late interior conditions. The building’s sculpted EIFS façade optimizes solar gain/shading, replacing the traditional heating system. Low-voltage equipment and water reuse decreases energy costs to 20% of that of an average NYC building its size. And Knickerbocker Commons was built for the same cost per sq. ft. as typical affordable housing projects in NYC.
Bushwick has undergone substantial redevelopment in recent years. This has pushed rents out of reach for many longtime Bushwick families, driving a need for new affordable housing. Because stable housing is the foundation of a prosperous life, a key to an apartment at Knickerbocker Commons is a key to opportunity for each of its residents. Its apartments are affordable to families earning less than 30%, 50%, and 60% of AMI. There are 4 1br apartments, 16 2brs, and 4 3brs. 6 of the units are project- based Section 8, subsidized for extremely-low income residents. 5 of the units are set aside for families requiring accommodation for a physically handicapped household member. The building includes a rooftop lounge and a laundry room for higher quality of life. Residents are also linked to RBSCC’s upstream network of supportive services and social programs. And a children’s daycare center on the ground floor makes the building an asset to the surrounding neighborhood.
For forty years, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, Inc. has served the needs of New York City’s low-income communities. We do so by providing and preserving affordable housing, and supporting our residents with an infrastructure of vital social programs. We believe that combining housing with healthcare and supportive services best bolsters neighborhoods that have suffered from years of disinvestment and neglect. RBSCC has grown from a small community based agency serving local senior citizens to one of the largest non-profits in Brooklyn, with a housing department of over 150 employees and an agency staff of nearly 2,000. We now operate 127 buildings and serve nearly 4,000 tenants, and we continue to expand across the 5 boroughs. RBSCC collaborates with community leaders, government agencies, private investors, and local businesses to finance and design our projects with attention to local conditions and an emphasis on sustainability and, of course, affordability.