The formal opening of The Overture, the second new apartment building to be constructed at Brookfield Commons, which used to be better known as the Winbrook Public Housing complex in downtown White Plains, took place July 21 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Overture is located at 141 S. Lexington Ave. It was built at a cost of $64 million, is nine stories and offers 129 affordable apartments along with approximately 2,000 square feet of community space and outdoor parking for 77 vehicles. Constructing The Overture was the second phase of a project to replace all five of the Winbrook public housing structures that date from 1949.
The first of the new Brookfield Commons buildings, The Prelude, opened in 2016. The White Plains Housing Authority, co-developer with Trinity Financial, established the policy of reserving apartments in the new buildings for all of the Winbrook residents and 90 of the apartments in The Overture were set aside for them.
The Business Journal learned that the redevelopment at Winbrook is planned to continue with demolition of the third Winbrook building in the fall. The White Plains Housing Authority, co-developer with Trinity Financial, established the policy of reserving apartments in the new buildings for all of the Winbrook residents.
The cost to replace the Winbrook buildings with the new Brookfield Commons development was estimated at $350 million when the plan was launched.
Amenities at The Overture include a fitness room, children’s playroom, tenant lounge with terrace, high-speed internet, laundry rooms on each floor, and bike and package storage. All apartments include a dishwasher, microwave, and storage closet. The building has 40 one-bedroom apartments, 63 two bedrooms, 23 three bedrooms, and two four-bedroom units. There is a unit set aside for the building superintendent.
The project is supported with funding from federal, state, county, city and private sources. State financing for the development included $15.3 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $26.3 million in equity and an additional $16.6 million in a subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will provide $97,400 in support. The City of White Plains provided $1 million in financing from its Affordable Housing Assistance Fund.
Fabian Ramirez, senior director of community finance at Capital One, one of the private organizations involved in the financing, said, “Affordable housing construction and preservation are critical to addressing the housing shortage across the country, which is why Capital One is committed to financing a diverse range of affordable housing developments.”
Mark Migliacci, vice president of Chase Community Development Banking, which also is involved in the financing, said “It’s exciting to be part of a neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment of existing affordable housing that prioritizes current residents, while creating new affordable and workforce housing offering community facility space for tenants. At Chase, we’re committed to supporting projects like this that create safe, stable housing, which is a fundamental component of healthy, thriving neighborhoods.”
Thomas Brown, vice president for design and construction for Trinity Financial in New York said that the entire redevelopment will create “over 700 units of critically needed affordable, workforce and replacement housing all completed without displacing any Winbrook residents.”
Brown pointed out that the Winbrook campus is more than 70 years old and was in need of significant reimagining and redesign.
“This new master plan will not only create high quality housing with sustainable design, it will also provide nonresidential spaces for services, health and activity, play areas and more for the residents and the community,” Brown said. “The redesign of the campus also will reintroduce Brookfield and Winchester Street with a design that will break up former housing superblock structures making the entire site more harmonious within the neighborhood.”
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said, “We in this city are proud that we work as hard as we can to get as much affordable housing into the city as we can and it is very difficult. It difficult to build a building but when you have to build affordable, I don’t care what type affordable you’re building, you have to jump through hoops and the hoops move and they set them on fire. It’s not easy.”
Denise Brooks-Jones, acting executive director of the White Plains Housing Authority, said, “We are keeping our promise to families who are now living in newly constructed state-of-the-art buildings.”
RuthAnne Visnauskas, commissioner of the state’s Homes and Community Renewal, said, “Coming out of the pandemic we think about the intersection of health and housing; we think about the importance of housing as jobs, housing and community facilities, housing and services.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer noted that he has been driving by the new building, The Overture, just about every day with the County Office Building being located just a few blocks away.
“It will stand as a symbol of what can be done in the future in housing,” Latimer said. “There’s even a broader issue here and that is what is the role of government. This is a debatable topic in the society now. There are people out there that say, ‘government is an oppressive entity and needs to be reduced and eliminated.’ How do you get services for people that need it if you don’t have a vibrant government that’s effective, and that’s the key word, effective. Because, what’s proven here is that different levels of government can work together cooperatively to take on a complicated project; that government entities can work cooperatively with the private sector both on the finance side and on the construction side and that we show the ability together to govern, to solve the problems of a society, not ignore them, not wish them away, but in cooperative effort, in democracy, to solve those problems, and that’s more than just housing; that’s everything.”