For several years, the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority (NRMHA) has planned a complete redevelopment of the Hartley Houses apartments. Hartley is New Rochelle’s largest public housing complex, containing 240 units within 5 mid-rise buildings on a seven-acre site about a block west of City Hall.
Like most public housing developments of a similar era and style, Hartley faces a host of challenges — aging infrastructure, common areas subject to regular vandalism, a physical layout that severs connections with the surrounding neighborhood, an unacceptably high crime rate, and more. In fact, this entire model of public housing is regarded as fundamentally flawed by most present-day urban planners. The residents of Hartley themselves are the chief victims of the complex’s deficiencies and would be the chief beneficiaries of improvements.
NRMHA envisions a complete transformation of the Hartley superblock, including the phased demolition of the existing structures, and their replacement with new homes, mainly of a townhouse design. In addition, a new street grid would be established to integrate the development into the surrounding area. This is much more than a face-lift — it is an entirely different affordable housing model, likely to be far more supportive of a good quality of life and of surrounding property values. You can learn more about the project details in this written description and this promotional poster.
Residents of Hartley will be offered the first opportunity to rent units in Heritage Homes, with federal housing vouchers bridging the gaps, if any, between current and future rent levels. If they choose, residents can instead rent units in other buildings under the NRMHA’s ownership or utilize vouchers for private housing elsewhere. Over the longer-term, as tenancy inevitably turns over, the new development will feature a wider income range, although the entire project will remain affordable and, in fact, will help satisfy New Rochelle’s affordable housing obligations under the terms of our Legacy Grant agreement with Westchester County.
In recent weeks, the Hartley redevelopment has taken notable steps forward by securing approvals from the City Council and other public entities. These include reaffirmation of the project’s environmental review, adoption of a site plan, authorization for a Housing Implementation Fund grant application, and approval of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) framework. The next step: NRMHA has applied for and must obtain tax-exempt bonds from the New York Housing Finance Agency.
The City will not expend any funds on this development and will, in fact, enjoy increased income under the terms of the PILOT.
Support for this project has been broad-based and bipartisan. The late Council Member Jim Stowe deserves special credit for his critical and sustained leadership. In addition, County Legislators Jim Maisano and Sheila Marcotte have been instrumental in securing County assistance.