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1780-First-Avenue-04 Rendering credit: New York CIty Housing Authority / FXCollaborative
Earlier this week, construction permits were filed to erect a soaring mixed-income rental tower midblock at East 92nd Street on the Upper East Side. To rise from a city-owned parcel within NYCHA's Holmes Towers campus, the 50-floor building is being designed by FXCollaborative with SLCE Architects and will be the world's tallest Passive House building if all goes according to plan. It would surpass the current tallest (and largest), The House at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island.
As proposed, there will be 339 apartments in studio to three-bedroom layouts - half of which will be offered at below-market rents. The 530-foot-tall structure will be one of the tallest buildings on the Upper East Side and provide sweeping views of the city and East River. The project also entails the construction of a 14,500-square-foot playground and a new 18,000-square-foot recreational and community center to be run by non-profit Asphalt Green.
All units will reap the rewards of Passive House construction which provides superior thermal comfort, improved air quality, reduced noise, and low utility costs. There will also be a rainwater catchment system to irrigate the open spaces and resiliency and flood protection strategies incorporated into the design.
The project will replace a playground along East 92nd Street between First and York Avenues. As you'd expect, the loss of open space, in addition to diminished light and air, has been a sticking point for neighbors and local representatives alike. To assuage concerns, the city made an "unprecedented" community engagement effort that included 23 resident meetings, over one thousand notices, and more than 400 face-to-face resident engagements, according to a press release from the city. “This project will fund badly needed repairs, and we will provide resources and amenities such as new playgrounds, a large community center, and job opportunities,” said former NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye.
The tower is being developed by Fetner Companies, the builder of The Victory and Epic luxury rentals in Midtown West. According to the Daily News, Fetner beat out three competing bids in 2017 to win the right to erect and manage the building under a 99-year lease. While Fetner must pay NYCHA an upfront fee of $25 million, the deal is still seen as lucrative since the project qualifies for $13 million in taxpayer subsidies and will pay no property taxes. According to NYCHA, Holmes Towers has approximately $35 million in capital needs and the project will raise $25 million in revenue necessary to keep the Authority’s buildings standing and residents in their homes. According to local blog "A Walk in the Park," only half of the funds from the sale will go directly to the Holmes Towers.
Holmes-Towers-03 Google Earth aerial showing location of the Holmes Towers infill site (CityRealty)

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New Developments Editor Ondel Hylton Ondel is a lifelong New Yorker and comprehensive assessor of the city's dynamic urban landscape.
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