This month, construction broke ground for Casa Celina, a 205-unit affordable housing development for seniors in the Soundview section of The Bronx. The development site is located at the corner of Watson and Thieriot Avenues and is the latest addition to the Justice Sonia Sotomayor housing complex.
The new building is named after Justice Sotomayor’s mother, Celina Báez. Developers responsible for the project include Xenolith Partners, The Kretchmer Companies, and ELH Management. City agencies involved in the project include New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA), the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC).
“This construction start is the beginning of an impactful project that demonstrates the vision of the agencies’ Seniors First program and their ongoing commitment to providing high-quality, sustainable, and elegant affordable housing for seniors,” said Andrea Kretchmer, principal of Xenolith Partners. “Our joint venture team of veteran developers, ELH Mgmt. LLC, The Kretchmer Companies, and WBE developer Xenolith Partners, is excited to continue our work with the resident and community leadership at Sotomayor Houses as construction gets underway.”
The residential component includes 46 one-bedrooms and 158 studios, all reserved for individuals and families at 50 percent area median income. In practice, that equates $46,750 for a family of two. A total of 62 units will be set aside for the formerly homeless adults.
Designed by Magnusson Architecture and Planning, Casa Celina is built to support mental health with expansive windows throughout the apartments and common areas to offer abundant natural light. Additionally, bright resident lounges on each floor create a vertical network of social spaces, conducive for social interaction and helping to prevent isolation for residents living alone.
Additional amenity spaces will include a 1,725-square-foot senior community space, a fitness room, laundry facilities, and a landscaped roof terrace where yoga classes and gardening will be available.
Jewish Association Serving the Aging, more commonly known as JASA, and New York City’s Department for the Aging will provide staffing for the senior community space.
“Groundbreaking at Casa Celina marks an important milestone in our goal to provide more safe and affordable housing to seniors in New York City,” said Kathryn Haslanger, CEO of JASA. “We hope to honor Justice Sotomayor’s family through this development, and alongside Xenolith Partners, ELH Mgmt. LLC, the Kretchmer Companies, and NYCHA, support our city’s most vulnerable residents with the necessary resources, supportive services, and a caring community.”
Earlier this year, the project team closed on a $245 million financing package to complete Casa Celina. A portion of that package will also fund construction of Atrium at Sumner, a forthcoming affordable housing property in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Permanent financing for the $113 million project at Casa Celina includes $43 million in HDC bonds, $7.7 million in HDC extremely low and low-income affordability subsidies, $52.7 million in low-income housing tax credit equity, and $9.9 million from other sources.
“This project demonstrates NYCHA’s commitment to address the urgent need for affordable senior housing for NYC residents to age in place,” said NYCHA executive vice president of Real Estate Development Jonathan Gouveia. “We are proud to work with all of the partners who have helped advance the quality and resiliency of affordable housing design while providing community programming and services to NYCHA residents and the surrounding neighborhood.”