Last fall, DNAinfo reported Lambert Houses, a sprawling subsidized housing project in the West Farms section of the Bronx, would be demolished and replaced with new affordable housing. Now, those plans are coming to fruition, and new building applications have been filed for 18 stories of apartments at 984 East 180th Street.
The new affordable housing development would rise 188 feet into the air between Vyse Avenue and Boston Road, two blocks from the Bronx Zoo. There would be 153 apartments spread across 157,242 square feet of residential space, creating decently-sized average units of 964 square feet.
Dattner Architects will design the project. The firm is one of the most prolific designers of affordable housing across the five boroughs, with a portfolio that includes master plans for Prospect Plaza in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, Hallets Point in Astoria, Queens, and Via Verde in the South Bronx. Prospect Plaza also happens to be the only other time in New York City’s history when a large, subsidized housing project was vacated, torn down, and redeveloped in the way that Lambert Houses eventually will be. (However, Prospect Plaza was a publicly owned NYCHA project, and Lambert Houses is controlled by a private developer.)
The residential tower would replace a six-story brick building at the corner of Vyse Avenue, which holds only a small portion of the Section 8-funded Lambert Houses. The five-building, 731-unit development was constructed on the Bronx Park South Urban Renewal Area in 1973 and heralded by the Times’ Real Estate section as “The Project That Transformed a Bronx Neighborhood.” At the time, the architectural press celebrated the project’s modernist feel, which was seen as a departure from the imposing, tower-in-the-park style of public housing. Davis, Brody, and Associates were the original architects.
Phipps Houses developed Lambert and has owned it ever since. Both the developer and the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development say the buildings have structural issues and are poorly laid out. A few months before DNAinfo published its story, Urban Omnibus talked to Phipps about their plans to redevelop the problematic complex.
UO’s Susanne Schindler describes the layout: “While the structure covering an entire city block is broken down visually into many parts and may have four or more distinct entrances, the stairs, acting like joints between these staggered building sections, function as the means of egress for both adjacent building sections. This creates one large building, linked internally through the double-loaded corridors on every floor. Keeping track of who is coming and going is made very difficult.”
Current tenants in Lambert Houses would be relocated to other buildings during construction, but Phipps ultimately plans to demolish all five of the 1970s buildings, according to public records cited by DNAinfo. They plan to build 1,665 units of affordable housing, 61,000 square feet of retail, and possibly, a 500-seat public elementary school.
Demolition plans have not yet been filed for Lambert’s current structures.
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