Helpern Architects

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Chairman Neil H. Ellis [Left] of First Hartford Realty Corporation, which developed and manages the Bartow Avenue housing, stands next to Elizabeth McClure, Helpern Architects Senior Associate and project manager for the renovation, and David Paul Helpern at the rededication. Caption for the full rendering [Right] is below.

After a $9.5-million renovation, the Adelstein Family Senior Housing facility at 2050 Bartow Avenue in the northeastern Bronx was rededicated in late August 2019.

Helpern Architects’ first affordable housing project came to us via First Hartford Realty Corporation, a long-standing client, in its role as developer and manager of the 100-apartment, 7-story-high building.

Extent of the project
Our work on the 25-yr-old building included new windows and bathrooms; masonry repairs; refurbishment of kitchens, common areas, and the community room; new elevator cabs and equipment; air conditioning for each unit, as well as smoke detectors, sprinklers, and other new mechanical equipment. There are 25 studio and 74 one-bedroom apartments, plus an apartment for the on-site superintendent.

Built in 1992, the facility is near Co-Op City, a district with an “extremely large” number of seniors. B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services – along with HUD/HOPE housing, a project sponsor – created the project to house people of all backgrounds with limited incomes.

Helpern Architects’ David Helpern and Senior Associate Elizabeth McClure, the project manager, attended the ribbon cutting along with officials from B’nai B’rith International, the Office of US Congressman Eliot Engel, New York State Homes & Community Renewal, and the Bronx Borough President’s planning arm. Neil H. Ellis, First Hartford’s Chairman, and William Connolly, managing partner of Connolly & Partners, represented the current project developers and builders.

There is a big “however.” Here’s what might have been.
Despite all the happy talk about interagency collaboration for healthy aging at the rededication [and on the campaign trail], there is a very disappointing backstory.

Because the sizeable city-owned property adjacent to this residence was available, First Hartford – with the city’s blessing and involvement – asked Helpern Architects to design a 1,000-unit affordable high-rise complex for seniors and veterans, including a new community center [rendering below].

The design and pro forma had broad community, borough, and City Council support. The Mayor’s representative sat in on many meetings. But, although Mayor DeBlasio claims to champion solutions to the city’s housing crisis … instead he handed the property to a city-operated animal shelter that had other available location options. The Mayor gave no explanation for his scuttling the project.

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Helpern designed a 1,000-unit housing complex for seniors and veterans that would have been adjacent to the original Bartow Avenue housing [right]. Rendering by OMI.