City Seeks Proposals For Large New Residential Project at La Guardia Houses

The development site is outlined in red at the top of this image.

The development site is outlined in red in the middle of this image.

City officials yesterday put out a call for residential development schemes on a site at the La Guardia Houses on Madison Street. A Request for Proposals (RFP) could lead to more than 400 new mixed income apartments in the Two Bridges area, which is under siege from large-scale development.

The RFP was issued jointly by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). NYCHA first expressed its intention to develop the site back in the spring of 2017. Since that time, city officials have been working quietly to build support for the plan through community engagement sessions with tenants at the La Guardia Houses.

According to the RFP, developers must build a 50% affordable / 50% market rate project on the 18,000 square foot parcel, located next to the Little Flower Playground (the site is currently used for resident parking). The affordable units must be available to applicants with household incomes at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).

In a section of the RFP detailing community priorities, the city calls for the creation of 450 apartments, plus a ground floor community facility that would be accessible to the general public. Tenants expressed a strong preference for a project that is contextual with the LaGuardia Houses’ existing 14-story towers. While there are no height limits listed in the RFP, NYCHA officials have previously stated that the new tower could rise to 35 stories.

Little Flower Playground/NYC Parks.

Little Flower Playground/NYC Parks.

The project is part of NYCHA’s NextGen Neighborhoods program, which aims “to build mixed‐income housing  on open NYCHA land to generate badly‐needed revenue for repairs and create more affordable housing.” At the La Guardia Houses, there’s an estimated $70 million in unmet capital needs.

NYCHA’s embattled chair, Shola Olatoye, said in a statement, “NextGen Neighborhoods at LaGuardia Houses is a clear example of the steps we are taking to reinvest in our buildings and our communities. After extensive resident engagement focused on resident priorities and concerns, we will deliver long overdue repairs to LaGuardia Houses while creating much-needed affordable housing.”

Development proposals are due on June 1. The project must undergo an environmental review, but is not required to go through ULURP (a more robust public review process). Community Board 3 will be discussing the project at its public housing committee meeting on Thursday, March 8 (Grand Street Guild, 131 Broome St., 6:30 p.m.)

The proposal, of course, comes at a time when the Two Bridges neighborhood is mobilizing to fight three mega-towers on the waterfront. Neighborhood groups are preparing a rezoning proposal to limit the size of new developments. While it does not include public housing parcels, there has been talk of moving forward with a long-established proposal to implement zoning protections on NYCHA campuses.

NYCHA is touting a robust public outreach campaign at the La Guardia Houses. What the housing authority does not mention, however, is that there has been absolutely no outreach to the larger community. There are obviously major concerns about the impacts on over development from one end of the neighborhood to the other. Those concerns are now expected to be voiced at upcoming public meetings required as part of the environmental review.