Via Verde originated in a design competition held by the city of New York and the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. A series of green roofs is the organizing element of the design. (David Sundberg)

Via Verde originated in a design competition held by the city of New York and the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. A series of green roofs is the organizing element of the design. (David Sundberg)

Via Verde—The Green Way • Bronx, New York City
Developer: Jonathan Rose Companies/Phipps Houses
Designer: Dattner Architects;
Grimshaw;
Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture
Size: 69,260 square feet (6,434 sq m)

Via Verde’s garden club cares for the vegetable gardens on the fifth-floor roof. (David Sundberg)

Via Verde’s garden club cares for the vegetable gardens on the fifth-floor roof. (David Sundberg)

The underlying goal of Via Verde was to serve as a model for the next generation of green affordable housing development. The building, a capstone in New York City’s effort to revitalize the South Bronx, offers an innovative, high-quality, sustainable design, as well as affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, combined with a ground-floor community facility and retail space.

Related: ULI Case Study: Via Verde | ULI Tour of the Bronx | Register for the ULI Fall Meeting

Built on a former brownfield site, Via Verde is composed of three distinct building types: a 20-story tower, a six- to 13-story mid-rise duplex apartment building, and two- to four-story townhouses organized around a central courtyard that begins at ground level and spirals up through a series of south-facing roof gardens.

The development has 222 apartments, including 71 workforce housing co-op units and 151 low-income rental units, and a 5,500-square-foot (511 sq m) medical center and pharmacy on the ground floor.

Buildings and rooftops offer expansive views of permanent open space to the south  of the site. Green roofs provide outdoor space for recreation and gardening. (David Sundberg)

Buildings and rooftops offer expansive views of permanent open space to the south
of the site. Green roofs provide outdoor space for recreation and gardening. (David Sundberg)

Via Verde goes beyond traditional green design by focusing on improving residents’ health. Nontoxic low-/no-volatile-organic-compound (VOC) paints, sealants, and adhesives were used in the apartments; natural cross-ventilation and ceiling fans are also provided. Rated Gold under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, the building is more than 30 percent more energy efficient than a baseline building.

Recycled and locally manufactured materials were used in construction, and more than 80 percent of construction waste was recycled. Green roofs provide amenity spaces while dissipating heat and absorbing rainwater; a stormwater reclamation system recycles water for irrigation; and motion sensors on lights in stairways and corridors conserve electricity. Photovoltaic panels on the south-facing facades produce 66 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power all common areas, and super-sealed insulation conserves heat and eases air conditioning demand.

The name “Via Verde” refers to a green way of life as well as to a literal green way of interconnected gardens that enable residents to experience nature. In a neighborhood with high asthma rates and little access to open space, the gardens provide residents with opportunities to play, relax, grow food, and exercise. People can walk from the courtyard, up the amphitheater seating to a series of green roofs as the building steps up from the south to the north. The programmed roof spaces include evergreen trees on the third floor, dwarf fruit trees on the fourth floor, vegetable gardening beds on the fifth floor, an extensive green roof and fitness center on the seventh floor, and a series of extensive green roofs as the building continues to step up to the 20th-floor community room and terrace.

The site was part of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company’s  freight yard. It was first developed in about 1908 with three small buildings. (Dattner Architects/Grimshaw Architects)

The site was part of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company’s
freight yard. It was first developed in about 1908 with three small buildings. (Dattner Architects/Grimshaw Architects)

Case Study Development Cost Information

DEVELOPMENT COST INFORMATION  
Co-op units
Hard Cost $24,261,401
Acquisition cost $48,783
Soft costs $6,152,822
Development fee $1,500,000
Total co-op unit costs $31,963,096
Rental units
Hard cost $49,364,599
Acquisition cost $177,880
Soft costs $12,110,508
Development fee $5,200,000
Total rental unit costs $66,852,987
FINANCING SOURCES
Co-op units Construction Permanent 
Debt
    HDC first mortgage* $7,440,000 $1,210,000
    HDC second mortgage 4,615,000 4,615,000
    HPD capital subsidy 9,093,470 9,093,470
    HPD HOME 712,630 712,630
    NYC Resolution A Bronx borough president/city council 1,500,000 1,500,000
    NYS Affordable Housing Corp. 2,117,500 2,117,500
NYSERDA 187,331 187,331
Bridge financing (Calvert Foundation) 3,122,165
Co-op sales proceeds—equity 10,852,165
Developer equity 1,675,000 1,675,000
Deferred developer fee 1,500,000  —
Total  $31,963,096 $31,963,096
*Taxable bonds, floated during construction with a JP Morgan Chase line of credit, at 7.7 percent interest rate, permanent fixed rate.
Rental units Construction Permanent
Debt
    HDC first mortgage* $33,690,000 $4,370,000
    HDC second mortgage 12,835,000 12,835,000
    HPD capital subsidy 9,767,756 9,767,756
    HPD HOME 2,516,580 2,516,580
    FHLBNY Affordable Housing Program (HSBC member) 1,900,000 1,900,000
NYSERDA 380,000 380,000
Federal/state LIHTC equity** 32,083,651
Developer equity 1,000,000 1,000,000
Deferred developer fee 4,763,651 2,000,000
Total $66,852,987 $66,852,987
* Taxable bonds, floated during construction with a JP Morgan Chase line of credit, at 7.7 percent interest rate, permanent fixed rate.
**Federal LIHTC at $0.82, state LIHTC at $0.49. Equity investment from Chase.