Organization Name: Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation
Project Title: Urban Horizons Economic Development Center
Project Location: Concourse, South Bronx
Urban Horizons (UH) is an adaptive re-use of the former Morrisania Hospital, constructed in 1926, shuttered in 1976, and rehabilitated and reopened in 1997 as WHEDco’s flagship building. The dilapidated and abandoned facility was restored to community use through mixed-use affordable housing and an economic development center, and is a powerful symbol of community pride, memory, and revitalization. Community needs surveys revealed that local families were making and selling food out their homes and taking care of children, and they needed ways to grow and formalize their enterprises. When UH opened, in addition to beautiful, affordable apartments, it was home to Bronx Cookspace, WHEDco’s commercially-licensed incubator kitchen for food businesses, as well as WHEDco’s Home-Based Childcare Training Institute for home daycare businesses. A Head Start center, primary care health center, family support services, and youth programs also meet needs, and serve thousands of people each year.
UH features 132 affordable studio, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments for formerly homeless individuals and families and households earning 50-60% of AMI. The exterior is architecturally elaborate with cornices, arched windows and doorways, and decorative columns. Many of the apartments have high, arched windows which bring light and world-class views of the NYC skyline. The building contains a total of 194,300 sq. ft., including 154,750 sq. ft. of residential space, 30,000 sq. ft. of commercial/program space, and 9,550 sq. ft. of cellar/ mechanical rooms. In 2013, UH completed a cellar-to-rooftop energy retrofit, including upgrades that save residents and WHEDco critical dollars, support healthier living conditions, and generate heat and power through a cogeneration system located on a roof of the building. Murals in staircases, art on walls, and a backyard farm and greenhouse for children make UH a healthy and beautiful place for families and children to learn, grow, and call home.
Urban Horizons is a visual and economic anchor representing progress and opportunity in the heart of the nation’s poorest urban Congressional District. The UH facility has served an estimated 70,000 individuals and households since 1997 through its 132 affordable apartments, Head Start center for 111 three-and four-year old children and their families, Home-Based Childcare Training Institute improving the services of 1,000 childcare providers serving 5,000 children per year, Bronx Cookspace (commercial kitchen) for 50 growing food businesses, youth development and education programs for 700 local youth, and family support services for 4,000 individuals annually across the Bronx. It is the headquarters for WHEDco’s operations and programs that serve 40,000 people across NYC each year. UH has been part of the bedrock of the enlivenment of the 4-train Jerome Avenue corridor north of Yankee Stadium, and is an emblem of family economic stability and community revitalization in the Bronx.
WHEDco was founded in 1991 by President Nancy Biberman, who envisioned renovating the long-abandoned Morrisania Hospital in order to provide low-income women and children with affordable homes and interconnected, 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 UH, WHEDco has developed Intervale Green (128 units for formerly homeless and low-income families) and will break ground on Bronx Commons (300+ units and the Bronx Music Heritage Center) in 2016.