The Bronx’s Lambert Houses may be replaced with 1,665 affordable housing units

Posted On Wed, September 21, 2016 By

Posted On Wed, September 21, 2016 By In affordable housing, Bronx

Google Earth view of the current Lambert Houses

When it comes to the Mayor’s affordable housing push, the Bronx is a force to be reckoned with. Not only were more than 43 percent of these units constructed in the first half of the year in the borough, but the City Council recently approved the La Central development, which will bring nearly 1,000 affordable units to Melrose under de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary housing legislation. Though not part of MIH, another new project may one-up this, ushering in a whopping 1,665 affordable apartments on the site of the Bronx Zoo-bordering Lambert Houses. As explains, “If proposals are approved, the new mega-development will feature more than double the affordable housing units and triple the existing retail space, create a new public school, and better integrate the community into the surrounding neighborhood.”

Lambert Houses-current-1

The Section 8-funded Lambert Houses, built in 1973, are overseen by nonprofit developer Phipps Houses, the largest affordable housing operator in the city. They purchased the 300,000-square-foot Bronx site in 2015, but since then the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development has found many problems with the existing six structures. Inside are long, narrow hallways that are not conducive to fire safety, and outside the monotonous, uniform buildings make for difficult navigation. Moreover, buildings systems and security are outdated, and a dark courtyard in the center of the development is both unappealing and unsafe.

Lambert Houses-table
Existing and proposed residential units, retail space, school, and parking spaces

Therefore, Phipps plans to enlist the go-to affordable housing architects at Dattner to replace the current super-block scheme with new buildings that will more than double the existing 731 units of affordable housing. They’ll create a street wall with 61,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and maisonette apartments to help integrate the complex into its surrounding neighborhood. The proposal also calls for a 500-seat elementary school and a reduction in the number of parking spaces to 110.

Lambert Houses-future-2

Lambert Houses-future-1
Proposed building massing of the new development

HPD was sure to note that no current Lambert tenants will be displaced: “Once relocated, unoccupied buildings would be demolished and construction of new buildings would proceed. Tenants of the next buildings to be demolished would be relocated within the Lambert Houses Development Site to the newly constructed buildings, and the demolition and new construction process would begin again.”

The proposal is currently making its way through the city’s approval process.



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Neighborhoods : Bronx

  • Myra Hill

    Good idea. The current Lambert Houses are ugly and outdated. And a lot of tourists pass by to visit the Bronx Zoo.

    • Greg

      So sad for the tourists….

    • Christine Lori

      Outdated? My house was built in 1873, and it’s still beautiful and safe. For Housing Projects, these are new. The architecture is post-modern. The Bronx threw up tons of housing projects in 2004, and 2007, and already they are talking about bulldozing these. Same thing in Newark where they replaced large towers with garden/faux colonial townhouses, citing the projects as the reason for the degenerate behavior and violence. No, it is the criminal subculture of the underclass who occupy these buildings. Deal with the actual problem and stop burdening the taxpayers.

      • Anthony Hope Marris

        You’re correct that housing built now is, on balance, of lower quality than housing built, say, before World War II. If your house was built in 1873, there’s a good chance it was built with good quality materials. If it is beautiful and safe, there’s a good chance it has been well maintained and that the people who lived there had the resources to maintain it. Public housing projects are of notoriously low-quality construction, and they are not owner occupied. The owners (public) have little incentive to maintain properties, and residents (the poor) lack the resources to do so.

        “The Criminal Underclass” is a different story, and I’d argue that poverty precedes crime, not the other way around. These neighborhoods have more crime because of diminished economic opportunity. It’s really very complicated, but the poor design of public housing has been shown to diminish quality of life much to the same effect. Blaming public housing in general for perpetuating criminal attitudes is incorrect.

        • Christine Lori

          Great response, Anthony. You sound like a rational person who would make for good conversation over coffee.



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