The New York Botanical Garden, Douglaston Ink Two Long-Term Ground Leases for Mixed-Use Affordable Projects in the Bronx

Real Estate In-Depth | September 2020

A rendering of the affordable senior housing project planned at 2856 Webster Ave. in the Bronx.

NEW YORK—Finalizing a deal announced earlier this year, The New York Botanical Garden and Douglaston Development have closed two separate 99-year ground leases at 2856 Webster Ave. and 410 Bedford Park Blvd. in the Bronx that will in a few years feature affordable housing projects totaling more than 400 units.

New York City-based Douglaston states today that it intends to develop the sites in two separate phases as 100% affordable housing. Together, the two phases will include 450 units of affordable housing for low-income seniors and low- to moderate-income families in Community District 7 in the Bronx.

The New York Botanical Garden announced in February that Douglaston Development of New York City was selected as the winning developer from a Request for Proposals issued by the Bronx-based tourist destination.

The development strategy will retain the existing long-standing grocery store, Cherry Valley Marketplace, that has been operating in this location for more than 13 years. Douglaston and NYBG, working with the supermarket operator, have received certification from the New York City Department of City Planning for a Food Retail Expansion to Support Health Program (FRESH) store in the ground floor space. The FRESH program encourages the creation and retention of grocery stores that provide fresh meat, fruit and vegetables in underserved communities. The existing grocery store will remain fully operational while construction commences on the first phase.

“With a 40-year development track record in the New York City area and beyond, we’ve seen the critical need for more affordable housing options in our city, especially for our senior population,” said Jeffrey Levine, Chairman of Douglaston Development. “We’re thrilled to be joining forces and visions with The New York Botanical Garden on this project, an institution with roots in the Bronx community dating back 129 years to provide this vital housing resource to the community.”

The first phase of development at 2856 Webster Ave. will include 188 units of affordable housing for seniors, available to those earning up to 50% of the Area Median Income and the 12,000-square-foot FRESH grocery space. On-site social services will be provided through the Fordham Bedford Community Services.

Construction financing arranged in cooperation with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and New York State Housing and Community Renewal is anticipated to close in December of this year and construction completion is planned for 2022.

The second phase of development, at 410 Bedford Park Blvd., will include approximately 260 affordable rental units, for individuals and families earning between 30% 100% of AMI, and an additional 8,000 square feet of community retail space.

Frank Liantonio, an executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, represented The New York Botanical Garden in the deal. Douglaston represented itself. Stephen B. Jacobs Group is serving as the project architect.

2856 Webster Ave. and 410 Bedford Park Blvd. are located on an acre-plus piece of land owned by The New York Botanical Garden situated on the southeast corner of Webster Avenue and Bedford Park Boulevard located in Bronx Community District 7. Following the rezoning of the land (the previous zoning restricted Webster Avenue to heavy commercial uses), a second public-planning process was facilitated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. This process led to the Webster Avenue Vision Plan, which is being brought to fruition via development and the promotion of mixed-income housing in the area.