Better New York

June 18, 2008

Bronx NYC: Saving Green While Living Green

Posted by TFM
June 18, 2008

Jacob's Place is the first low-income and green apartment building in the nation. The project was constructed according to the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria and features a combination green/solar roof. The $90,000 roof installation was funded in cooperation by NYSERDA and BP’s Solar Neighbors Program, whereby BP donates a solar system to a low-income/affordable housing project every time a celebrity purchases a similar system. The sixty-four panel, 11 kW system at Jacob’s Place came from Owen Wilson, and will power elevators, ventilation, and common areas; it’s Solar Neighbors’ first such installation outside of California (where the program is based) and its first in a multi-unit residential building. Other green features at Jacob’s Place include bamboo apartment flooring, low-VOC paints and materials, energy-efficient elevators, and a graywater system.

The project cost $14.5 million, $5.6 million of which came from the federal low-income housing tax credit program. These credits were syndicated by Enterprise, which in turn obtained funding from various financial institutions. $4.2 million came from the city’s Housing Development Corporation, $2.7 million from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and $1 million from the Borough of the Bronx. The city donated the land and Fordham Bedford put up $330,000. The project team included Oaklander, Coogan and Vitto Architects and Bronx-based Galaxy Construction.

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November 12, 2007

Jacob's Place featured in The Norwood News

Norwood News: "Making a Mark"Published in the November 1, 2007 Edition article about the departure of Pat Logan from the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation after a decade of making a better New York. OCV's Jacob's Place is mentioned as his latest achievement.

This feature describes the legacy of Bronx activist Astin Jacobo as it is hornored by the creation of Jacob's Place, the first "Green" supportive Housing project in the U.S.




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41 Broad Street and OCV featured in The New York Times


Located in Manhattan's Financial District, The Claremont Preparatory School is the result of a brilliant rehabilitation of the former Bank of America Headquarters. The new 120,000 square foot private school
accommodates 1000 students pre-K through 8. The project won the Historic Preservation Award from the State of New York, and has been featured in the news since the groundbreaking in 2004.

The grand banking hall was restored and outfitted as a grand auditorium. Interior bank offices were reconfigured to provide new classrooms, laboratories, offices and an Olympic length swimming pool. The bank vault is now a new cafeteria and the bank roof now holds a state-of-the-art gymnasium with a playground on its' rooftop.

"Renovation Project Takes New Prep School to the Bank June 21, 2004"

This New York Times article talks about the rennovation.

"Near Ground Zero, a Mixed-Use Revival September 9, 2007"

This subsequent article comments on the new optimism in the Financial District since 9/11.


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October 25, 2007

Green Affordable Housing Project Opens in the Bronx


Published: October 19, 2007
By Kelly Sheehan, Online News Editor

New York—Enterprise Community Partners and Fordham Bedford Housing Corp., a community developer that creates and preserves affordable housing, has completed Jacob’s Place, a 63-unit environmentally friendly affordable housing complex in the Bronx in New York City.

John Reilly of Fordham Bedford Housing Corp. tells MHN that the project broke ground in August 2005. It includes a solar electric system (pictured) provided through the Solar Neighbors Program, a unique partnership created by Enterprise and BP.

Under the Solar Neighbors Program, every time a participating celebrity purchases a BP solar system for his or her home, BP donated a similar system to be installed on a low-income family’s home. Enterprise identifies these low-income families and affordable housing developers.
Jacob's Place Solar Panels
In this particular case, Jacob’s Place was provided with an 11 kW, 64-panel electric power system that will provide energy to common areas and elevators as well as for ventilation. Actor and director Owen Wilson, who purchased a solar system for his home, made the solar panel donation to Jacob’s Place possible. The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided half of the total cost of the solar system.

“Environmentally friendly housing is important not only for low-income residents who suffer disproportionately from high energy costs and environment-related health issues, such as asthma and high blood lead levels, but also for the environment as a whole,” says Abby Sigal, vice president and director of Enterprise New York. “Enterprise has put such tremendous resources behind its Green Communities program because we believe that building green is a necessity, not a luxury, in low-income neighborhoods.”

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November 30, 2006

Architecture Week People and Places

November 30, 2006

Construction is complete on the adaptive reuse of an early-20th-century manufacturing building in the Landmark District of New York City's Tribeca neighborhood. New York firm Oaklander, Coogan, & Vitto Architects, P.C. (OCV Architects) transformed the building to house four residential units. The lofts retain the building's original 12-foot (3.7-meter) ceilings, exposed brick, and deep spaces, with glass doors and other elements added to maximize interior light. Features include radiant-heated stone floors and recessed marble baseboard and windowsills. Stylander DesignGroup of New York designed the interiors.

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February 11, 2006

Affordable Housing On 11th Is Loved By All

by Sara G. Levin

February 2006


Architect Richard Vitto (with glasses) Phipps Houses CEO Adam Weinstein presenting their plan to the CB 3 Housing Committee standing before two sets of blueprints, Principle Architect Richard Vitto and Phipps Houses CEO Adam Weinstein reassured attendees of the Community Board 3 Housing Committee meeting last month that upcoming building renovations will preserve the East 11th Street delicate infrastructure. At the end of the meeting, which attracted a smattering of local activists, the committee voted to support Phipps’ effort to build new homes for low-income residents.

The project, called Fabria Houses, involves renovating three abandoned buildings on 11th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue B, and constructing two new structures on empty lots on East 7th and 9th Streets. The units are expected to remain under a low-income lease for at least 99 years, according to Phipps’ agreement with the New York City Housing Authority.

Phipps Houses, a longstanding nonprofit developer, needed CB 3’s support to apply for New York State low-income housing tax credits, Weinstein said. The extra money, he explained, would enable all 67 apartments to be “affordable.” Without it, Phipps would go ahead with the project, but would sell 30% of the apartments at market rate.

“I view this as our chance to make more affordable housing available,” said Weinstein.

While income requirements vary depending on the admittance program set by NYCHA, Weinstein said he thought maximum income for a 2-bedroom apartment was approximately $32,000. Under his current agreement with NYCHA, the authority will fill 39 units with New Yorkers off its Section 8 waiting list. Ten will be given to families from the City’s homeless shelter system and the remaining will be distributed by lottery.

“Our community has felt a loss after the shutting down of these buildings, so I’m very happy to see that this element of our community be restored,” said Daniel Nauke, president of the East 11th Street block association. However, Nauke added that neighbors must insist that the buildings remain faithful to their intended use and do not cause structural damage to surrounding areas. He explained that a subterranean spring is running close to the surface on 11th Street, and careless digging could cause it to flood nearby basements. “We’re trying to stay away from any sub-surface damage,” said Vitto, who explained that the shells of the buildings will be remodeled, but remain intact. Floors will be gutted and redone to allow for new apartments—which will be small, around 750 sq. ft. for two bedrooms and 580 sq. ft. for one-bedrooms.

Susi Schropp from the Cooper Square Committee attended the meeting to make sure local organizations like hers can be involved in overseeing the lottery drawing process. She said it is important to make sure locals and former residents who were relocated get first consideration. In agreement with her was Damaris Reyes, director of Good Old Lower East Side.

Committee Chairman Sam Wilkenfeld presided ably over the meeting, which ended with a unanimous vote in favor of Phipps’ project.

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September 01, 2003

Sky Gardens: Travels in Landscape Architecture

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA Associate, Publisher September 2003 Oaklander, Coogan & Vitto Architects (OCV) is in the process of incorporating intensive green roofs into four of its projects, all publicly funded affordable housing developments constructed in conjunction with non-profit organizations interested in developing supportive, assisted living housing for the community. All will be accessible by the tenants.
  • Chelsea Residence, located at West 24th St. is a gut rehab of the McBurney YMCA and will be a 207 unit facility providing community based living and counseling services for at risk teens and the formerly homeless. It is halfway through construction and nearing the point where the installation of green roof systems will begin.
  • Miracle Makers, located at 1013-1029 Broadway, in Brooklyn is gut rehab of an existing 4-story loft building and new construction of a 5-story building that will have a total of 101 mini studio apartments and communal facilities, specifically designed to house veterans and senior citizens.
  • Georgia's Place, Brooklyn is construction of a new apartment complex of 48 mini studio units designed to house senior citizens and persons with disabilities, also providing support services.
  • Newburgh Hotel, Newburgh NY is a gut rehabilitation of the Newburgh Hotel, a large 120,000 square foot facility in downtown Newburgh. It will provide 120 supportive housing units, artist housing with communal studio space, an arts center, and social services.

OCV principal Richard Vitto states, "The roofs are being designed for maximum aesthetic appeal, function, and recreational purposes. Communal space is crucial to these types of projects as it is a vital part of the supportive housing foundation. The green roof provides a perfect blend of function, beauty, efficiency, and community conscience." Richard believes that higher initial costs can be addressed through monitoring and education. "Currently, there is no vehicle in place that will translate the long term savings in reduced operations costs into funds that will allow us to provide these measures during the construction process. Education of funding agencies and the general public is also a key - As we complete projects which have green roofs and as the benefits can be more clearly demonstrated, people will begin to change their thinking regarding them and view them as a logical way to cover a building."




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October 05, 1999

PERSPECTIVES; The Challenge of Managing Supportive Housing

May 9, 1999

ARCHITECTS have techniques to overcome the bare-bones institutional look of much publicly financed housing: mansard roofs with dormer windows, decorative cast lintels and cornices on the exterior, and exotic plantings and ornate lighting inside. Sometimes money left over in unneeded contingency funds when a project nears completion can be used for further enhancements, said Richard Vitto, of Oaklander Cooper & Vitto Architects.New York Times
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How We Make A Better New York

Recent: OCV in the News

  • Bronx NYC: Saving Green While Living Green
  • Jacob's Place featured in The Norwood News
  • 41 Broad Street and OCV featured in The New York Times
  • Green Affordable Housing Project Opens in the Bronx
  • Architecture Week People and Places
  • Affordable Housing On 11th Is Loved By All
  • Sky Gardens: Travels in Landscape Architecture
  • PERSPECTIVES; The Challenge of Managing Supportive Housing

Friends and Partners

  • New York City Housing Authority
  • Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation
  • U.S. Green Building Council
  • A.I.A.
  • Common Ground
  • The Phipps Houses Group
  • Palladia Inc.
  • Enterprise Development Corporation
  • Bianchi: Design and Strategy
  • Anyway Artists

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About the firm:

Oaklander, Coogan and Vitto, P.C., is a versatile, client-driven architecture firm serving the New York Metropolitan area since 1973. Specializing in affordable and special-needs housing, the firm has partnered with many notable urban housing authorities and development groups to create multi-family housing, private homes, commercial spaces, schools, churches and community centers with great respect for each site’s urban landscape, history and culture.

OCV is also a member of The U.S. Green Building Council