Designed by RKTB, Bronx Development Brings Affordable Housing to Families and Seniors
NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2021 — Pioneering experts in housing RKTB Architects have announced the completion of Phoenix Estates II, a multifamily residence for families and seniors in The Bronx. Conceived employing an innovative zoning approach, the eight-story complex’s inventive design harmonizes with the surrounding residential-industrial Hunts Point neighborhood, while adding urgently needed affordable rentals, and street-level community-use space.
With 108 units, 48 of which are reserved for seniors, the 102,000-square-foot residence at 700 Manida Street developed by nonprofits MHANY Management, Inc. and Nos Quedamos may be a first: a project with 100% of its units designated affordable, and with senior units distributed throughout rather than grouped together. According to the developers, RKTB has helped create a model transgenerational community.
“The inclusion of senior living units is unusual, but we expect there will be many more such projects in the near future,” says Alex Brito, AIA, a principal at RKTB. “Exploring a recent Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) modification opened new avenues to a larger development.”
Adopted in 2016, the Affordable Independent Residences for Seniors program is a ZQA modification allowing for increases in density when set-asides for seniors are incorporated. According to Brito, including senior units for 700 Manida made possible a 45% increase in the allowable floor area. RKTB brought to bear the firm’s five decades of design experience as well as its accumulated understanding of zoning and other development challenges, resulting in a residential project that suits the neighborhood and enhances the community.
“We are proud of the building designed by RKTB,” says Ismene Speliotis, executive director of MHANY Management. “700 Manida now provides affordable, state-of-the art ‘top-shelf’ homes for seniors and families coming from some deplorable living and high-rent-paying conditions. 700 Manida is proof that when the development team and the City partner and are committed to the highest standards, beautiful housing can be designed and operated for hard-working families at the lower end of the income scale.”
The design team identified cost-effective materials and finishes for the apartment interiors, such as quartz countertops and high-quality LED fixtures, weaving a “market-rate feel” into the affordable rentals. Outwardly, the layered massing steps down toward adjacent buildings so they don’t seem out of scale. The street level includes 3,700 square feet of community facility space, currently used as art galleries.
Completed late this past summer, residents of Phoenix Estates II began moving in to their apartments in August of 2021.