NYC to demolish and rebuild two NYCHA complexes in Chelsea
New York City will demolish two Manhattan public housing complexes and construct brand-new high-rise apartment buildings. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on Wednesday announced a $1.5 billion plan to demolish the Elliott-Chelsea and Fulton Houses and rebuild the more than 2,000 public housing apartments currently located there. Supported by a majority of tenants who voted in a survey on the proposal, the plan also includes new retail and commercial spaces and thousands of new mixed-income units, as first reported by the New York Times.
Under the plan selected by the residents who responded to the survey, all 2,055 existing NYCHA apartments (1,111 homes at Elliot-Chelsea and 944 at Fulton) will be replaced on existing campuses in brand-new buildings. The plan also includes roughly 3,500 new mixed-income apartments, of which 875 will be affordable.
The new apartments will come equipped with dishwashers, a washer and dryer unit, resident-controlled heating and cooling, as well as common area amenities like multipurpose community spaces, and rooftop terraces. There will be new onsite community resources, including healthcare facilities, community centers, grocery stores, retail stores, and additional outdoor spaces.
The developers said residents will be able to continue living in their current apartments during construction. Most of the new buildings will be constructed before the old structures are demolished.
“We are grateful to the hundreds of Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea residents that participated in this first-of-its-kind selection process, helping to bring NYCHA and our city’s public housing to the next generation,” Tenant Association Presidents Miguel Acevedo and Darlene Waters said. “When residents lead and have a seat at the decision-making table, we can find solutions that prioritize our safety and better our surrounding neighborhoods.”
Construction on the project will be managed by Essence Development and Related Companies, appointed by tenant leaders and NYCHA officials in December 2021, according to NYCHA. The two private developers were chosen when the plan involved a $366 million renovation of the two public housing buildings, which included rehabilitating apartments and adding new heating systems, plumbing, security systems, and more. However, the projected renovation costs quickly grew to around $1 billion, nearly as much as it would cost to demolish the buildings and start from scratch.
After its demolition, a brand-new mixed-use or public housing building will be built on the property, according to Gothamist. While the new buildings are being constructed, NYCHA will complete certain renovations to immediately improve the quality of life for residents while they wait to move into their new buildings. During this time, on-site security will be enhanced as well.
Plans to demolish the two Chelsea public housing campuses have been circulating for years, but have only gathered the majority support of its residents as living conditions have deteriorated. Residents frequently report leaks, mold, heating problems, and broken elevators, just to name a few common occurrences throughout the NYCHA properties. NYCHA has estimated it would cost roughly $40 billion to make repairs across the entire system.
The results of a survey conducted by NYCHA and the developers found that approximately 30 percent of eligible residents, about 950 people, responded to the survey, and 60 percent of those responses supported demolition. NYCHA aims to implement similar strategies at other public housing properties throughout the five boroughs, beginning with outreach to tenants.
The prospect of constructing new, mixed-use buildings on NYCHA land has also grown in popularity among developers and NYCHA in recent years. In 2019, NYCHA officials presented tenants of the LaGuardia Houses on the Lower East Side with a plan to construct a 35- to 45-story tower with up to 74 percent market-rate apartments, as The City reported. The 2019 plan also included the demolition of the two Chelsea public housing buildings, which residents quickly spoke out and protested against.
Developers are particularly interested in building properties around the Elliott-Chelsea and Fulton Houses because it lies in one of the most popular real estate markets in NYC due to its close proximity to Hudson Yards and the High Line.
The plan is only the third time in NYCHA’s 90-year history that a housing complex will be torn down, and the first time that new, mixed-income buildings will be constructed on NYCHA property.
Before construction can begin, the project must go through a comprehensive land-use review process, which is projected to kick off next year. The City Council and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development must also sign off on the plan. Once it begins, construction is expected to take six years.
“What has been underway at Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea continues to build on the success of years of deep and meaningful resident engagement and participation by now facilitating the replacement of more than 2,000 existing apartments with brand-new buildings,” NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt said.
“We applaud our partners’ ability to nimbly and flexibly meet the needs of New Yorkers living at these developments and thank our residents for driving the process step by step on this exciting and important journey.”