Via Verde: Success in the New York Housing Legacy Competition

Via Verde: Success in the New York Housing Legacy Competition

The grass is much greener on the other side of the East River, where the perks of affordable housing in the Bronx will now include an outdoor amphitheater, rooftop gardens, apartments designed for breezes, and a fitness center, thanks to Via Verde, the winner of The New York New Housing Legacy’s first juried design competition. The site, which is located on East 165th street, will be sold to PR Design Group, LLP for $1 as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years. The development is valued at $4 million.


Via Verde, “The Green Way,” hopes to provide eco-friendly and sustainable housing for low to middle income families.
-photo courtesy of Archidose.org

The winning team of developers and architects included Jonathan Rose Companies, known for green-minded projects with focuses on nodes of transportation and access, and preserving the surrounding environment. The group utilized Triple Bottom Line (people, planet, profit) measures of success while in the planning phase – keeping environmental, social and economic issues of the community at the top of their priorities. Via Verde provides an example of innovation for the future of environmentally conscious urban development. A little more green in the land of steel and cement may provide New Yorkers with a little more breathing room – literally.


“There’s a reason why people like to be in parks and gardens and trees,” said Jonathan F. P. Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Companies. “We grew out of nature. How can we make this very urban building but also give people a connection with nature?” He said the team decided to “wrap the building with a garden,” beginning with a contemplative space and moving “from very private to increasing levels of communality.” -from The New York Times.


The view from one of Via Verde’s “Green Roofs.”
-photo courtesy of Cool Town Studios.

The complex will be divided into co-ops and apartments. 63 co-ops units will only be available to those making under 130% of the median income level. The rest of the 139 apartments are designed for families of four making less than $56,700 a year, or around 40% of the local median income level.


Mayor Bloomberg’s dream of a eco-friendly NYC may be within reach and while Via Verde has environmentals and urban developers excited about the possibilities, the task of turning the Big Apple green is a long and difficult one. According to this article in the Gotham Gazette, “The city is expecting demand for electricity to outpace current capacity by 2012, and a major portion of that demand comes from buildings. New York City buildings emit 79 percent of the global warming gases in the city, which in turn, accounts for 1 percent of emissions nationwide, according to a recent study from the mayor’s office. New York City alone emits as much as these gases than all of Portugal or Ireland.”


Be sure to check out this TNAC article by Gregory Maher and Judith Turnock. The spring 2007 feature discusses other projects similar to Via Verde in the United States.

Tags: new york citymichael bloomberg

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