Melissa Joins Mayor Bloomberg, Mark Teixeira and Harlem RBI in Announcing New School and Affordable Housing in El Barrio/East Harlem

Melissa joined Mayor Bloomberg, New York Yankee Mark Teixeira, Rich Berlin of Harlem RBI and others in announcing an exciting project spearheaded by Harlem RBI that will create new affordable housing and space for the Dream Charter School in El Barrio/East Harlem.  Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea and Manhattan Community Board 11 Chair Matthew Washington also joined in the press conference.  Below is an abbreviated version of the press release with all of the details.  The full version of the release is available here.

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$85 Million, Thirteen-Story, 150,000-Square-Foot Building Will Include School for 450 Students and 90 Affordable Rental Units

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Matthew M. Wambua, New York Yankee Mark Teixeira and Harlem RBI Executive Director Rich Berlin today announced a partnership to develop a landmark, mixed-use facility in East Harlem that will include approximately 90 new affordable housing units, the DREAM Charter School and Harlem RBI’s program and office space. Scheduled to open for the 2014-2015 school year, the new school space will accommodate up to 450 students between kindergarten and eighth grade. The announcement took place on Harlem RBI’s Field of Dreams in East Harlem, where the Mayor was also joined by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, parents and students from DREAM Charter School and Harlem RBI program participants and alumni.

“This building will be a place where New York families can afford to live, children can get a first-rate education, and a fantastic non-profit can expand its services,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “East Harlem will experience the benefits of this development immediately, but the greater impact on our City as a whole will come in the future – when this school produces successful alumni who lead us to a better and brighter future. This partnership between the City, a non-profit, and generous donors is a great example of public-private collaboration making things happen.”

The building will be located on East 104th Street between Second and Third Avenues, on site at the Washington Houses. As currently planned, the $85 million, thirteen-story, 150,000-square-foot building is expected to break ground in the summer of 2012 and open in the summer of 2014. It will include:

• The new home of DREAM Charter School, which is currently being incubated at PS 38 on 102nd Street. In 2008, after 17 years of working in East Harlem and producing exceptional results, Harlem RBI opened DREAM Charter School. DREAM’s mission is to educate East Harlem children through a comprehensive K-8 program that builds a community of passionate, lifelong learners. DREAM is a model learning community with high expectations, a strong culture of care and a vision of student success and excellence. Today the school serves 200 students and will grow one grade each year until it reaches capacity at 450 students, grades K-8.

• Approximately 90 units of low-income housing, including studios, one-, two- and three-bedrooms. The building will be part of the Administration’s $8.4 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to create and preserve more than 165,000 homes and apartments. Since July 2004, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Housing Development Corporation have financed construction or renovation of more than 113,000 affordable housing units, nearly 7,300 of them in East Harlem’s Community Board 11.

• Program space and the home office of Harlem RBI. Harlem RBI began in 1991 when a group of volunteers transformed an abandoned, garbage-strewn lot into two baseball diamonds for the youth of East Harlem. Since then, Harlem RBI has grown to serve more than 1,000 boys and girls, ages 5 to 21, with year-round academic, sports and enrichment programs. Harlem RBI’s comprehensive approach to youth development replaces the barriers inner-city youth typically face with concrete opportunities to build the skills and confidence needed to graduate high school, matriculate to college and break the cycle of poverty. Since 2005, 98% of Harlem RBI seniors have graduated high school, 94% of seniors have been accepted into college and 99% of participants have avoided teen parenthood.

“I became involved with Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter because I believe the work we are doing is truly changing lives,” said Mark Teixeira, Yankees first baseman, Co-Chair of Harlem RBI’s Capital Campaign. “It is my hope that my involvement can help shine even more light on this incredible organization and these extraordinary kids.”

“This innovative partnership demonstrates the possibilities for the use of NYCHA’s vacant land in a way that benefits its residents and the surrounding community,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This project brings new 100% income-targeted housing into our neighborhood that is so desperately needed, and represents an exciting step forward for Harlem RBI, which has a history of providing such great services to our local young people. The project also stands to benefit public housing residents in a big way, with dedicated school seats and priority affordable units for NYCHA residents. Best of all, the housing will remain affordable for decades to come, as it will ultimately be sold back to NYCHA. I welcome this project in my community of El Barrio/East Harlem and thank Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott, Chairman Rhea and all others who have made this possible.”

Funding for construction of the school is being made possible in part by a $32.5 million grant from the New York City Department of Education’s Charter Facilities Matching Grant Program. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Housing Development Corporation will contribute nearly $30 million toward the residential portion, which is expected to close in 2012. Harlem RBI will raise $20 million in individual, corporate and foundation donations. Mark Teixeira has contributed $1 million. The development and construction of the building will be led jointly by Jonathan Rose Companies and Civic Builders.

The project is expected to create up to 400 construction jobs, and 100 new permanent full and part-time jobs. As part of the project, Harlem RBI also hopes to renovate Blake Hobbs Park, a 25,000-square-foot park between 103rd Street and 104th Street. Once constructed, New York City will take ownership of the school building while DREAM Charter will maintain and operate the school. The New York City Housing Authority will also have an option to purchase the housing units for $1 after a 15-year lending period expires.

Washington Houses is named after George Washington and consists of fourteen buildings, 12 and 14-stories tall with 1,511 apartments. Completed September 20, 1957, the 20.82-acre Manhattan development is between East 97th and East 104th Streets, and Second and Third Avenues.


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