Urban Horizons (UH)

Organization Name: Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco)

Project Title: Urban Horizons (UH)

Project Location: Concourse, South Bronx

Project Goals:
Urban Horizons (UH) is an adaptive re-use of the former Morrisania Hospital, built in 1926, shuttered in 1976, and rehabilitated and reopened in 1997 as WHEDco’s flagship building. UH, providing beautiful, affordable homes and high-quality supportive services responsive to neighborhood needs, came to life at a critical moment in South Bronx history: following decades of disinvestment, displacement, and neglect, the transformation of UH represented the entire community’s own burgeoning potential for renewal. Now 20 years after UH first opened, the Bronx is again at a changing point. While the City and State look to position the borough as ripe for new development and infrastructure, residents’ health, employment, economic, and education outcomes are some of the poorest in the state. Preserving UH and its affordability into the future is vital to achieving an important balance between Bronx growth and investment, and efforts to ensure residents and businesses can stay to benefit from it.

Project Description:
UH features 154,750 sq. ft. of residential space, offering 132 affordable studio, 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartments for low-income and formerly homeless households. It also features 30,000 sq. ft. of commercial space home to WHEDco administration and programming, including: Bronx CookSpace, a commercially-licensed incubator kitchen; WHEDco’s Home-Based Childcare Training Institute; a Head Start center; a primary care health center; family support services; and youth programming. As UH nears its 100th year, however, its viability is being strained by high utility/occupancy costs, low revenue, and failing property systems. In response, WHEDco is implementing a multi-pronged preservation project aimed at extending UH and its community impact well into its second century. The project involves residential refinancing; tenant-centered rent restructuring to maintain true affordability; apartment interior improvements; and energy-efficient capital upgrades across residential and community areas.

Community Impact:
UH is a visual and economic anchor representing progress and opportunity in the heart of the nation’s poorest urban Congressional District. The building headquarters WHEDco’s operations and programs, serving more than 40,000 community members each year. UH is occupied by 132 households, two-thirds of which earn less than 50% of AMI, and offers essential community services through its: Head Start center, supporting 111 preschoolers and their parents; Home-Based Childcare Training Institute, improving the services of 1,000 childcare providers and the 5,000 children in their care; Bronx Cookspace, which has launched more than 200 local food businesses; youth programming, enriching the after-school time of 700+ local youth; and family support services, reaching 3,000 individuals annually with benefits access, counseling, emergency food provisions, and more. WHEDco is proudly committed to preserving UH, an emblem of family economic stability and community revitalization in the Bronx.

Organization Description:
WHEDco is a community development organization founded on the radically simple idea that all people deserve healthy, vibrant communities. We build award-winning, sustainable, affordable homes in the South Bronx – but our work is not over when our buildings are complete. Informed by the area’s rich history and diversity, and drawing on its assets, WHEDco restores pride of place, reverses stereotypes, empowers residents, and makes neighborhoods livable and healthy. In addition to Urban Horizons, WHEDco has developed Intervale Green, one of the nation’s largest multi-family Energy Star-certified buildings with 128 affordable units, rooftop farm, and childcare and cultural programs. WHEDco is currently developing Bronx Commons, a 426,000 sq. ft. campus slated to open in 2019 featuring 305 units for formerly homeless and low-income residents (30-90% AMI), a rooftop farm and terrace, commercial space and outdoor plaza, and the Bronx Music Hall, a Bronx music and dance performance venue.

    Urban Horizons building before renovations

    Exterior of WHEDco’s Urban Horizons

    Urban Horizons residential lobby

    Bronx CookSpace incubator kitchen at Urban Horizons

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