From Distressed and Abandoned to LEED-Silver Affordable Housing
How a plan for affordable workforce housing beat stiff odds to achieve LEED certification and earn approval in the existing built neighborhood.
On a prime site within walking distance to shopping and public transportation in Greenburgh, New York, three distressed structures sat abandoned. The buildings were an eye-sore, and demolishing them would offer the opportunity to build smartly designed, affordable multi-family housing where there previously were no available options.
Though demand for the structure was high, unique challenges presented an uphill battle. In order to make the project feasible, a rezoning of the site was required and several variances had to be granted by the Planning Board. Community opposition to the affordable housing plan was strong, and the site provided its own challenges for maximizing the number of residential units built.
Armed with three decades of experience in building design and urban revitalization projects, Magnusson Architecture and Planning P.C. was tasked with designing the green affordable workforce housing development and paving the way forward amidst community resistance. The group set their sights on LEED for Homes Silver certification, even with the project’s limited budget. The building would be designed and built to stay in scale with the neighboring buildings, while filling the immediate need for affordable housing units in the neighborhood.
22 Tarrytown is now a three-story, 28-unit workforce family development with a cellar, community room, laundry facility, green roof and parking. The design maximizes the amount of daylight with generous windows and glazing using ENERGY STAR® qualified Marvin Essential Collection Casement and Awning windows, selected for their high performance and energy efficiency that could help units save up to 15 percent of their total energy bill.
The windows’ narrow profiles offered the design flexibility required to maintain the building’s sleek, modern look. To help mitigate the effects of the sunlight entering the large openings, the east and west exposures are controlled by sun shade elements, such as balconies, exterior shutters and awnings.
The building is generously landscaped with native trees and plants—creating natural buffers along all the property lines, and providing shade control to the building and parking areas. Two public stairs are visible from the lobby, intentionally flanked with large windows to encourage use and promote physical activity. The building also includes a 6,000-square-foot green roof which reduces the amount of peak storm water runoff into the sewer system, and helps improve the quality of water that flows into nearby rivers and streams. A portion of the rain water is also collected and stored on site for landscape irrigation.
Despite fierce initial community resistance to the project, demand for its units far exceeded supply—450 applications were filed for 28 available units, which range from studios to two-bedrooms for low-income individuals and families. The building now shines within the surrounding neighborhood and is embraced by the local community and its workforce housing tenants.