Via Verde is a proposed 18-story, 202-unit, working-class apartment complex in the Melrose section of the Bronx that won New York City’s first juried design competition for affordable and sustainable housing. The competition, known as the New Housing New York (NHNY) Legacy Project, attracted 32 teams of architects and developers from around the world. The competition was designed to encourage the integration of sustainability and design excellence with affordable housing.
Located at Brook Avenue and East 156th Street in the South Bronx, the competition site was a 60,000-square-foot vacant lot that consists of city-owned property and a legally abandoned rail right-of-way. Currently valued at $4 million, the site will be sold by the City to PRDG for $1 in exchange for the design and construction of a mixed-use development that includes affordable housing for New Yorkers of low-, middle-, and moderate-incomes.
The winning team is made up of an international architectural firm, Grimshaw Architects; a New York firm, Dattner Architects; and two developers, the Jonathan Rose Companies and the Phipps Houses Group, a New York nonprofit that develops low- and moderate-income housing. The building is to include low- and moderate-income housing bound together by courtyards and roof gardens that would be used for everything from harvesting rainwater to growing vegetables and fruit.
The proposed project would include an outdoor amphitheater, apartments designed for breezes, a fitness center, wiring for Internet access, “live-work units” for people who work at home, stoops with photovoltaic canopies, even a Christmas tree farm. The co-ops would be for households making no more than 130 percent of the median income for the city, or roughly $70,000 for a family of four.
The rest of the apartments would be rentals for households making less than 40 percent, between 40 and 60 percent, and between 60 and 80 percent of the median income. The low and moderate rents are to be made possible with the help of city, federal and state subsidies. Construction is expected to begin mid-2008.