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Bronx Affordable Housing Goes Green

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Via Verde, Bronx, NY

Construction finally has begun on Via Verde, a sustainable, mixed-income housing project in the South Bronx designed by Grimshaw Architects and Dattner Architects.

A May 3 ground-breaking ceremony drew approximately 100 people, including U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who was involved in the project early on while serving as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The 300,000-square-foot complex is rising on a 1.5-acre remediated brownfield site near a major transportation and commercial center. Via Verde will include 222 units—151 of which are reserved for low-income tenants—spread across a 20-story tower, a mid-rise duplex building, and town houses, all organized around a central courtyard. The complex will feature a wellness center and edible gardens.

Designed to use nearly one-third less energy than a comparable housing development, Via Verde, which means “Green Way,” is expected to meet or exceed LEED Gold requirements. Sustainable features include a rainwater collection system, photovoltaic panels, and green roofs.

The $100 million project has been years in the making. It stemmed from a 2004 competition organized by AIA N.Y., which asked designers to conceive green, affordable housing. That undertaking evolved into the “Legacy Project,” a competition sponsored by AIA N.Y. and various city departments. It, too, solicited proposals for sustainable, affordable housing, but focused on the South Bronx site. Grimshaw and Dattner, paired with Jonathan Rose Companies and Phipps Houses Group, won first place, beating out 32 other contenders.

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Geoffrey Gloak

may be one of the few people you meet who is always glad to talk taxes. He has spent 17 years immersed in government communications – almost entirely in the tax field. He currently serves as the Director of Public Relations at the New York State Tax Department. In each of Geoff’s positions, he has created opportunities to transform the communications environment for the benefit of the organization. Under his leadership, Tax Department public relations have shifted from a reactive focus to proactive outreach. Most recently, Geoff led the STAR Registration media campaign to assist 2 million homeowners with property tax relief while eliminating fraud. As a result of extensive press outreach, more than 300 articles were printed in daily papers alone, and broadcast media repeatedly covered the story in each corner of the state. Less than 5 months after launch, 2.3 million homeowners had registered for their property tax exemptions. Geoff (@gloak23) lives in Kinderhook with his journalist wife, Kristi Berner (@kristiberner), and 4-year-old daughter, Gemma, who is now proud to be able to write her name.