The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) selected “The Steps at Saratoga” proposal from RiseBoro, IMPACCT Brooklyn, and Urbane Development to build new affordable housing for seniors and low-income families and advance food justice and wellness on a vacant lot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The project aims to be the first development in NYC to build a community-owned local network plant, providing more affordable internet access to residents and local businesses.
The two-building project is expected to produce approximately 238 new affordable homes, including 158 for low-income families and 80 for seniors. The senior building will be available to households earning up to 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), and the family building will be available to those earning between 30% and 80% of AMI. Approximately 49 of the homes will be set aside for formerly homeless households, including 25 for families and 24 for seniors.
“‘The Steps at Saratoga’ is an incredible example of community driven development that will ensure Bed-Stuy residents have the resources, housing and opportunity they specifically asked for in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Plan,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “Congratulations to RiseBoro, IMPACCT, and Urbane on a great proposal; their team of non-profit and MBE partners is an example of the work we are doing as a City to expand and diversify access to our programs and build more equity through City-financed projects.”
“The Steps at Saratoga is an outstanding proposal bringing a wellness and healing focus to housing Brooklyn’s older New Yorkers, working families, and formerly homeless New Yorkers – those in need of truly affordable housing,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “This winning proposal was put forward by RiseBoro, IMPACCT Brooklyn, and Urbane Development – a team made up of non-profits and a Black-owned development firm with deep roots in Brooklyn. Congratulations to the team, and we look forward to all the next steps for The Steps at Saratoga.”
“The selection of The Steps at Saratoga proposal paves the way for a new affordable housing development that will generate greater equity, wellness, and economic opportunity for the Bedford-Stuyvesant community,” said NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Eric Enderlin. “Congratulations to RiseBoro, IMPACCT Brooklyn, and Urbane Development on their winning proposal. HDC looks forward to working together with all our partners as we bring this meaningful project to life.”
After an extensive review process, HPD selected RiseBoro, IMPACCT Brooklyn, and Urbane Development’s “The Steps at Saratoga” proposal for its exceptional response to the community wellness and healing theme outlined in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Wealth and Wellness RFP. This is the second of two sites in the RFP, the first of which was designated in December 2021. The team uses “steps” as a conceptual framework in pursuing the goals of the RFP: advancing food justice, strengthening the local economy, improving health outcomes, creating safe affordable housing, and prioritizing community voices and connections. These core principles are evident in the building’s design, residential space, and community programming.
The project advances key goals in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Plan, a result of the City’s collaborative planning process with local organizations, community members, and elected officials to address the housing needs of the rapidly changing neighborhood. During outreach efforts for the plan, residents expressed a desire for facilities that promoted healthy living and community wellness, local physical exercise, and holistic healing services through programming and design.
“Food justice and affordable housing are pillars of RiseBoro’s whole-community approach,” said Scott Short, CEO of RiseBoro Community Partnership. “This project is a model of how local communities can have it all — equitable food access, determination around health and wellness, as well as housing affordability — and we are thrilled to contribute to it.”
“IMPACCT Brooklyn is proud to be part of the development team that will assure we progress beyond ‘building affordable’ to ‘building sustainable.’ This project will help to lay strong foundations for the establishment of a localized ecosystem that can help our community improve and maintain wellbeing for the long-haul, in a comprehensive way because a holistic vision lies at the heart of it all, said Bernell Grier, Executive Director of IMPACCT Brooklyn. “IMPACCT Brooklyn’s biggest ambition through this project is to strengthen small business growth and catalyze local economic revitalization in Bedford Stuyvesant. The Steps of Saratoga will not only meet the affordable housing needs of the community but it will bring investment into it in a holistic way. We are excited to actualize a vision of healing, wellness and growth in Bedford Stuyvesant that truly works with the community to Imagine, Plan and Act to create the future we want.”
“Urbane is honored to work with HPD in tandem with RiseBoro and IMPACCT Brooklyn to catalyze truly equitable development in partnership with the community of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Steps at Saratoga development pushes the envelope beyond quality affordable housing; this project invests in the health and wealth of Bed-Stuy through community-led food justice initiatives, a consortium of wellness-focused enterprises, and a first of its kind community-owned broadband network that will lay the groundwork for community wealth for generations to come,” says James Johnson-Piett, Principal, and Chief Executive Officer of Urbane. “At our core, Urbane remains deeply committed to fostering long-term community asset building and equitable economic opportunities in Bed-Stuy and other communities who have struggled to find an equitable pathway to development. We look forward to continuing our work with the materialization of ‘The Steps at Saratoga’.”
The development team aims to create a central hub for residents and the community that builds on existing community anchors and long-standing community organizing efforts to address the core social determinants of health. The development partners, other local non-profits, minority-owned business enterprises, new entrepreneurs, and established businesses will operate the hub and offer programs for the community including:
Wellness programs including healthy food, cooking and culinary workshops, urban farming programs and health services.
- The Central Brooklyn Food Cooperative, a Black-led community project utilizing collective strength to ensure access to affordable and fresh food for low- to moderate-income Black people in Central Brooklyn, will operate a ground-floor food retail store.
- The Saratoga Food Incubator will operate a front-of-house demonstration kitchen to promote food literacy, and a back-of-house commercial kitchen to develop local food businesses.
- Beautifully Fed Food, a women-of-color worker-owned cooperative based in Brooklyn that’s focused on creating healthy communities through delicious foods, will collaborate on projects with the Central Brooklyn Food Cooperative and the Saratoga Food Incubator.
- The Brooklyn Packers, a Black-led food distribution worker coop, will use cellar space for expanding the warehousing, processing, and distribution of food throughout the community.
- Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation will tend to a greenhouse in the shared rear yard of the two buildings.
- RiverSpring Health Plans will operate their all-inclusive Care for the Elderly Center on the ground floor.
Wealth programs to foster a regenerative economy by promoting business incubation, creating jobs, and keeping wealth grounded in the community.
- RiseBoro’s Worker Coop Development Program and the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives will share space for incubating and supporting cooperatively-owned micro-enterprises, with RiseBoro’s program focusing on businesses in food supply and demand.
- The Saratoga Business Incubator, operated and leased by Urbane Development, will hold space for providing comprehensive coaching for business growth.
- IMPACCT Brooklyn will house its headquarters for small business and merchant support.
The development team also incorporated wellness and healing for residents in the building’s design, programming, and amenities. Open spaces connect the family and senior buildings, including a multi-use backyard space on the first and second levels and two shared community gardens at higher levels. The family building has a fitness room, laundry on every residential floor, a game room, a children’s playroom, and a landscaped rooftop terrace. The senior building includes a communal laundry room, a wellness room, computer room, and a private landscaped terrace.
RiseBoro will provide high-quality case management, crisis intervention, supportive counseling, entitlement advocacy, and recreational activities at the senior building, enriching the lives of elder residents. Additionally, RiseBoro’s Wellness Rising program will provide community health workers and a resident nurse, enabling residents to take advantage of the tools and education they need to improve health.
In partnership with Pariveda Solutions Inc., the project aims to be the first development in NYC to build a local network plant owned by the community that allows for more affordable internet access for residents and building tenants as well as the ability to provide service to local businesses. The proposal is also among the first to meet HPD’s new equitable ownership requirements; city-financed projects developed on public land are required to include a Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) or non-profit firm that holds a minimum 25 percent ownership stake in the project, advancing the City’s commitment to increasing M/WBEs’ participation in the affordable housing development market.
Minority-owned architecture firm MARVEL incorporated the steps to wellness and healing theme into the design of the project, creating a tiered rooftop that optimizes corridor views and sunlight. The steps design also contributes to a diversity of rooftop offerings and programming allowing residents to grow their own foods and maintain an active lifestyle. The project aims to be a model for “triple bottom-line” sustainable design, focusing on people, profit, and the planet; it incorporates active design that enhances quality of life by encouraging physical activity, protecting indoor air quality, and creating an outdoor oasis for residents; has strong financial stability, and emphasizes passive house efficiency to reduce the carbon footprint of the building.
“‘The Steps at Saratoga’ will help redefine what responsible building looks like in our borough,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “With a firm commitment to affordability, public health, and community connections, this proposal responds to the needs of the neighborhood and challenges the status quo of new developments. I’m so grateful to HPD, RiseBoro, IMPACCT Brooklyn, and Urbane Development for teaming up with members of our community to create more homes, foster food security, and turn an empty lot in Bed-Stuy into a model for all of Brooklyn.”