Phipps Houses moves ahead with $600M redevelopment of Lambert Houses

The overhaul will double the number of affordable houses at the complex

The Lambert Houses in West Farms
The Lambert Houses in West Farms

The do-over at one of the city’s most infamous affordable housing complexes is underway, with residents at Lambert Houses starting to relocate ahead of a major overhaul.

Affordable housing development firm Phipps Houses is leading the $600 million revamp of the complex, in an attempt to revitalize an area that was once known mainly for crime and poverty.

Under the plan 14 buildings at the complex will be demolished and replaced with taller towers, the New York Times reported. The overhaul will bring the total number of affordable units at the complex to 1,665 — double the number currently available. Phipps [TRDataCustom] filed plans for the redevelopment last year.

The changes at Lambert Houses will mean extra density in the area, an issue that has thwarted other affordable housing developments around the city. Just last month Phipps withdrew a rezoning application that would have paved the way for its affordable housing development in Sunnyside.  But in the Bronx, the reaction to Phipps plan for Lambert Houses has been largely positive. Councilman Ritchie Torres, whose district includes the complex, is supportive of the redevelopment, the Times reported.

Built in the mid-1970s, Lambert Houses was seen by many as an exciting and innovative approach to low-income housing. But its design is now considered outdated. “I’ve never met a property so structurally conducive to crime as Lambert Houses,” Torres told the Times. “I think the layout was designed in an ivory tower with no thought of Safety Or Street life. It’s to risk yourself in a maze. If you’re navigating it for the first time, you can never be sure where you are or what floor you are on.”

It’s not the only major affordable housing development currently underway in the borough. Just yesterday the City revealed Hudson Companies’ $300 million plan to convert the now-shuttered Spofford Juvenile Detention center into an affordable housing complex in Hunts Point.

Affordable housing is a signature policy for the de Blasio administration. So far 28 percent of the 55,509 low-income apartments that have become available under the policy are in the Bronx, according to the times. There have been ongoing challenges in getting affordable development underway, as some local officials and community groups oppose projects. [NYT]Miriam Hall