In with the new. As New York City faces an ongoing housing crisis, a parking lot that sits in Prospect Heights keeping a handful of cars owned by the city off the street, will become a housing development for homeless and low-income seniors.
The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development selected Jobe Development Corp. to convert the 17,145 square-foot parking lot on 542 Dean St. into an all-affordable housing development. Given the location, the new homes will be connected to health and wellness amenities, social services, community facilities and open recreational spaces.
The redevelopment is part of the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan. Neighboring blocks in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant will feature new developments with housing, retail, commercial and industrial spaces — and safer, more pedestrian-friendly streets. During the community outreach for AAMUP, Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy residents indicated a desire that the city prioritize creating 100% affordable housing on public, city-owned sites, according to HPD. Terms of purpose for HPD developments will last for at least 30 years.
After consulting with the community and reviewing multiple proposals, the winning plan — named Park Edge, after its proximity to a playground, basketball court, and ballfield — is set to create a new entrance to the park along with public seating and greenery. In addition to affordable housing for people ages 62 and up, the project will provide new spaces for gathering; on-site programs for arts, recreation, education, and health and wellness; and individual case workers for formerly homeless residents.
“There was a desire to see more arts and culture and wellness programs in the project so now there is a plan for community space on the ground floor dedicated for that purpose,” said HPD press secretary William Fowler. “They wanted to see this project not overwhelm or distract from their existing open space, which is why there is a plan to create new public passive space as part of the project and create an architectural design that opened up to and not closed off what the natural entrance points were to the project.”
The number of homeless persons, between the ages of 55 and 64 in shelters increased by about 250% from 2004 to 2017 and seniors from the ages of 65 and older, increased over 300% during the same time period, according to the city’s Center of Innovation through Data Intelligence. Forecasts suggest that if nothing is done, by 2030 the homeless population over 65 will triple again, with similar gains in the homeless population over 55.
With the city’s shelter population at a record high as asylum-seekers continue to enter the city, Mayor Eric Adams announced 12,278 homes that will be newly constructed this fiscal year, the second-highest number of new affordable homes funded in one year since tracking began in 1976. In FY23, the administration produced 26,682 affordable homes through new construction and preservation deals – a 22% increase over the prior year.
“What this housing will do is provide a community asset where they can live and rent long term with not fear about eviction or increasing rents,” said Olga Jobe, principle of Jobe Development Corporation, the developers behind the project.
Jobe Development was one of the first minority developers to partner with HPD the Enterprise Foundation in the early 1990s. Those development opportunities have helped to foster Jobe Development’s growth from a small contractor, Jobe said, and the company has since worked on a number of affordable housing projects on city-owned land, including in Central Brooklyn. HPD chose Jobe, in part, as part of the agency’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Building Opportunity Initiative, which aims to address disparities in development opportunities while creating more affordable housing in nabes that need it.
Park Edge’s design will keep a wide sidewalk allowing the continuation of neighborhood gathering and creating a new entrance and visibility to the neighboring Dean Playground.
“Today’s announcement is a tangible and important step that brings our community one step closer to realizing an important goal for our city,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson, in a statement. “Slated to serve as permanent housing for low-income and unhoused older adults, the project at 542 Dean Street has been integral to the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), wherein our neighbors made it abundantly clear that deeply affordable permanent housing is a necessity to guarantee our community’s long-term vitality and wellbeing. I am excited to see this development move forward and proud that our efforts to make sure AAMUP was truly responsive to community needs helped move this project forward.”