Bronx’s Mott Haven neighborhood gains 175 new units for seniors for a total of 320 units.
On May 21st, Network member West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH) celebrated the completion of Tres Puentes. The project included a refurbishing of Borinquen Court, which continues to house 145 seniors and/or people with physical disabilities in the community, and the creation of two new buildings welcoming 175 new residents. The name “Tres Puentes” refers to the complex’s views of the Willis Avenue, Madison Avenue, and Third Avenue bridges nearby, but was heralded as the perfect name for the various relationships that made the project possible.
“The goal is not just buildings, but a place where people can truly live,” said Sheldon J. Fine, President of the WSFSSH Board of Directors, who began the speaking program in a large, lively room.
Father John Duffell offered a blessing over the current and future residents of the buildings, thanking the Borinquen Court residents for their patience through construction and their welcoming attitude toward their new Tres Puentes neighbors. He also expressed gratitude for former WSFSSH Executive Director Laura Jervis’ earliest visions of all the possibilities for the site.
Tony Dalton, a Borinquen Court resident, and Linda Drake, a Tres Puentes resident, also welcomed the crowd. Drake noted that the building expansion was a “new experience and an adventure” and thanked WSFSSH for connecting the community together in new ways: “We’re all under one roof, and Tres Puentes means three bridges!”
“WSFSSH was the right partner for this work, and it couldn’t be just anybody,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. He said to the residents, “This is yours! We will never, ever leave the Bronx behind. We want to make sure that when we do housing, we are doing it for people that have been here for years and years.”
“When you walk into Borinquen Court, you feel like home, and that’s not an easy thing to do,” said City Councilwoman Diana Ayala. She expressed happiness at partnerships with WSFSSH given its care that everything benefit the seniors in the residence.
“Projects like Tres Puentes are truly emblematic of the creativity and partnership that go into this work,” said Louise Carroll, newly appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). She noted this was her first ribbon-cutting event in her current role.
“We are investing in bricks, but they are really for the people, for now and into the future. There’s a lot of change going on in these neighborhoods, and we want to ensure the people who are already living here are living stably,” said RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).
“We cannot thank Council Member Diana Ayala enough for all her commitment over many years,” said Paul Freitag, Executive Director of WSFSSH. “It takes a small army to do a project like this, but critical to our success were the existing residents of Borinquen Court. In contrast to the toxic NIMBYism we so often see in affordable housing development, here the original residents wholly supported the decision to develop the housing we are celebrating today.”
Others who spoke words of support were Joann M. Vargas, Senior Property Manager at Tres Puentes; Dave Walsh, NE Regional Manager of Chase Community Development Banking; and Emily Chen, VP & Team Leader for the East Region at National Equity Fund, Inc.
Along with 175 new units for seniors, Tres Puentes added a health center and pharmacy on site and provided for an expanded, state-of-the-art senior center, all serving the existing and new residents as well as the residents of the surrounding NYCHA complexes nearby. The three-building complex is connected by enclosed walkways, features a landscaped courtyard, and also has retail space geared toward the community.
The design team for the project included Redtop Architects/SGVA; Silman; Dagher Engineering; AKRF, Inc.; Joanna Pertz Landscape Architecture; FNA Engineering Services, PC; William Vitacco Associates Ltd.; and IROS Elevator Design Services, LLC. Construction was carried out by Procida Companies, LLC; KOW Building Consultants; JM Zoning; Bright Power; Domani Inspection Services; and Steven Winter Associates, Inc. WSFSSH also specifically noted ConEd and the NYPD 40th Precinct for their partnership through the development.
WSFSSH’s onsite services for the residents are funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). State sources of funding included HCR and New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). City sources of funding included HPD; NYCHA, and the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation. Borough President Diaz, Jr. and City Councilwoman Diana Ayala also financially supported the project. Other sources of support included the National Equity Fund, Inc., Morgan Stanley, and LISC.