Cost: $300 Million
Size alone is enough to draw attention to Boricua Village in the Bronx’s Melrose neighborhood.
Centered around the new flagship “vertical” campus of Boricua College, one of the nation’s first post-secondary educational institutions dedicated to serving the educational needs of metropolitan New York’s Spanish-speaking communities, the ambitious eight-building educational, commercial and residential community totals 1 million sq ft on a 4.5-acre site bordered by Third and Washington avenues and 161st and 163rd streets.
“People don’t speak of acres when talking about Bronx development projects,” says Marc Altheim, a principal with Atlantic Development Group, which is developing the project in association with the college. “It’s rare to have anything of this magnitude under way.”
It’s also unusual to have so many uses associated with a single development in the borough. Designed to serve 2,000 full-time students—more than twice the current enrollment of Boricua’s existing Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses—the centerpiece, 14-story, 120,000-sq-ft college tower will house classrooms, lecture halls and administrative offices. There also will be a 350-seat theater, museum, cultural center, library, high school and college prep programs, and an after-school program for students’ children.
Surrounding the Boricua College tower will be more than 70,000 sq ft of publicly accessible landscaped open space, including a plaza and amphitheatre, and seven residential buildings ranging from eight to 13 stories containing approximately 700 studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The exteriors of the residential buildings combine EIFS with precast stone panels.
Because approximately half of the apartments will be designated affordable housing, the project received $81 million in low-cost financing from the New York City Housing Development Corporation and additional funding from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The remainder of the units will be rented at market rates.
Other features will include approximately 50,000 sq ft of retail space and a 60,000-sq-ft, 175-space underground parking garage.
Although much of the existing site was made up of city-owned vacant lots, general contractor Knickerbocker Construction required nearly five months to complete the demolition of the remaining buildings, including the old Bronx Criminal Courthouse, and accurately locate what Altheim calls a “spaghetti” of largely undocumented underground utility lines.
When construction began in early 2008, the courthouse’s original subgrade walls were retained for sheeting and shoring purposes while workers installed the 1,800-cu-yd concrete mat foundation atop 725 40-ton piles and 350 yds of foundation walls.
The college tower, which occupies the footprint of the old courthouse building, was required by city building codes to hug the profile of 161st Street, resulting in a curved blue-tinted glass face from the fourth floor up with no 90-degree angles. To accommodate the wall’s unusual shape, fenestration contractor YKK AP designed a split vertical mullion, screw-spline system that allows frames to be pre-assembled and installed from the interior.
Approximately 1,300 tons of structural steel and 2,200 cu yds of concrete slab flooring placed atop metal decks were used in the college tower.
All of the development’s buildings are on track to be complete by the end of this year, with final fit-up and landscaping work scheduled to wrap up next year. Along with providing a new educational and economic catalyst for the Bronx, the new complex is expected to create 600 jobs, including more than 300 Boricua college faculty and staff members.
Altheim also predicts that Boricua Village will be the “punctuation mark on the Bronx’s steady growth and reinvention.” He says that with its location just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium, and not far from the Bronx Zoo, “Boricua Village can be a Bronx icon as well.”
Owner: Boricua College/Atlantic Development Group, New York
Architect:Hugo S. Subotovksy Architects, New York
Structural Engineers:Brian Brooker Associates; Selnick Harwood Consulting Engineers
MEP Engineers:Eric Ettinger & Associates, New York
Civil Engineering:Philip Habib & Associates, New York
Landscape Architect:Abel Bainnson & Butz, New York
General Contractor:Knickerbocker Construction, Bronx, N.Y.
Curtainwall glazing:Diversified Glass & Storefronts Inc., Bronx, N.Y.
Fenestration system manufacturer:YKK AP