Affordable Housing Goes Green in the Bronx
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Construction finally has begun on Via Verde, a sustainable, mixed-income housing project in the South Bronx designed by Grimshaw Architects and Dattner Architects. A May 3 ground-breaking ceremony drew approximately 100 people, including U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who was involved in the project early on while serving as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
The 300,000-square-foot complex is rising on a 1.5-acre remediated brownfield site near a major transportation and commercial center. Via Verde will include 222 units—151 of which are reserved for low-income tenants—spread across a 20-story tower, a mid-rise duplex building, and town houses, all organized around a central courtyard. The complex will feature a wellness center and edible gardens.
Designed to use nearly one-third less energy than a comparable housing development, Via Verde, which means “Green Way,” is expected to meet or exceed LEED Gold requirements. Sustainable features include a rainwater collection system, photovoltaic panels, and green roofs.
The $100 million project has been years in the making. It stemmed from a 2004 competition organized by AIA N.Y., which asked designers to conceive green, affordable housing. That undertaking evolved into the “Legacy Project,” a competition sponsored by AIA N.Y. and various city departments. It, too, solicited proposals for sustainable, affordable housing, but focused on the South Bronx site. Grimshaw and Dattner, paired with Jonathan Rose Companies and Phipps Houses Group, won first place, beating out 32 other contenders.
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