Colonna House – Hempstead, NY
Colonna House was our first example of how to build effective and affordable housing, which incorporates the residents comfort and safety into the design. It was our first new senior housing development and the first project in Nassau County to combine LIHTC and HOME funds.
Financing was achieved by combining a construction and permanent mortgage from the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a land grand from the Village of Hempstead Community Development Agency (CDA), and a construction loan from the Village of Hempstead CDA. Boston Capital syndicated our tax credits at $0.65 per dollar.
Project design and construction were both guided by Ironburgh. With our knowledge of Hempstead, we designed the building with the safety of the residents foremost in mind. We increased the concrete footings and retaining walls in order to raise the basement four feet above ground. This made the windowsills fo the first floor apartments twelve feet above ground, which has significantly diminished the threat of break-ins.
We designed the lobby with full-story glass walls in order to increase visibility. Doing such allows the entering resident to clearly see who is in the lobby before entering. It also enables police cruisers to clearly see all activity in the lobby. For added safety, the elevator door opens up into the lobby, which is a bright and open space.
Once inside the apartment, we also placed a premium on resident safety. We installed a video camera trained on the front lobby door which any tenant can see through. Additionally, each apartment is fully equipped with a sprinkler system, with heads in all rooms and closets. A gasoline powered generator backups the sprinkler system in case of electrical shortage. The generator also powers hallway lights during power failures.
Although safety was foremost to us, we did not forsake aesthetics. each residence is designed with hard wood floors of oak, solid wood kitchen cabinets of oak, solid wood doors of birch, vertical venetian blinds by Levelor. Each hallway is carpeted wand wallpapered. Amenities also include a large frost-free refrigerator, self-cleaning gas oven, two high-efficiency air conditioners and a master antenna for those not subscribing to cable television. A specially designated room is to be used for both tenant meetings as well as planned activites for the residents.
Sheldrake worked closely with community leaders including representatives from local government, churches social service agencies and businesses to recruit and select residents. When construction was completed on May 20, 1995, we had all 36 units occupied in ten days.