Published in The Wall Street Journal | April 17, 2014
Affordable housing takes on a different look
By Lana Bartolot
With the scaffolding slowly coming down from a retrofitted P.S. 109, East Harlem residents are getting their first view at an affordable-housing project that stands in contrast to other such digs in the neighborhood.
Just a stone’s throw from the city’s postwar public housing complexes on Third Avenue and East 99th Street, the collegiate Gothic-style building, designed by Charles B.J. Snyder in 1898, is being revealed as a scaled-down château, with refurbished gargoyles and buff-colored brick gleaming for the first time in decades. The school closed in the mid-1990s after falling into disrepair.
But this won’t be fancy housing for up-and-comers. The $52.2 million project—co-developed by the Minneapolis-based Artspace, which acquired the building in 2012 for $1, and Operation Fightback, a community developer in El Barrio—will offer 90 units of affordable housing to qualified artists through a program administered by the city’s Department of Housing, Preservation & Development. The project received $24 million in federal low-income housing tax credits.