Chestnut Commons Includes One-Stop Shop Community Center for Recreation, Youth and Adult Education, Workforce Development, Kitchen Incubator and Human Services
Passive House Development with Solar Panels and Rooftop Garden
Largest Public Site Designated through East New York Rezoning Responds to Priorities Identified by the Community
Today New York City Department of Housing Preservation (HPD), Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Department of City Planning (DCP), MHANY Management (MHANY), Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), and Urban Builders Collaborative opened the doors to 275 permanently affordable homes at Chestnut Commons Apartments. This unique mixed-use development is affordable to households with incomes between 20% and 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), including 55 for formerly homeless New Yorkers. All homes are permanently affordable.
Chestnut Commons includes a mix of studios, one, two, and three-bedroom apartments. On the ground floor, a new Cypress Hills East New York Community center offers rich, multi-layered programming by Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, CUNY Kingsborough Community College, and more. As identified in the East New York Neighborhood Plan, the project also includes affordable retail space for local small businesses.
Chestnut Commons is a model for healthy and sustainable urban living. The project is certified as a Passive House and includes solar panels and a rooftop garden that reduces energy consumption, tenants’ utility costs, and improves resident wellness. MHANY and CHLDC together with Food Print Group have not only prioritized recycling but have spearheaded an organic/composting program throughout the building including the installation of a biodigester that will compost and generate fertilizer right on site for immediate use as well as distribution to local farms and gardens.
“Chestnut Commons combines all the aspects of healthy living – with homes for the lowest-income New Yorkers and those who formerly experienced homelessness, space for the community and small businesses, and sustainability best practices,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This project delivers on priorities for the community in East New York, including, most importantly, hundreds of affordable homes. I was proud to support this project as borough president with half a million dollars, and I am excited to see it housing our neighbors as the mayor.”
“Congratulations to the entire Chestnut Commons Team for bringing this exemplary project to East New York. Alongside the critically needed housing that will give hundreds of New Yorkers a safe, affordable place to call home, Chestnut Commons offers the programming, amenities and climate conscious features that are the future of live, work communities. The East New York neighborhood plan continues to deliver on its promises as part of our efforts to advance a New York City that allows everyone to thrive in our city,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz.
“Today marks a significant milestone in fulfilling the commitments we made in the East New York neighborhood plan. The development team, including locally-based non-profit organizations with deep ties to the community, has brought to life a dynamic project with a wide array of community services, culturally-rich programming and hundreds of deeply affordable homes that will benefit local residents for generations,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “I thank and congratulate MHANY, Cypress Hills, and all of our partners for breathing new life into this previously vacant site and provide lasting affordability for the neighborhood.”
“With 275 permanently affordable and sustainably designed homes, Chestnut Commons will benefit the East New York community for generations,” said HDC President Eric Enderlin. “Residents will also benefit from the dynamic program offerings of the Cypress Hills East New York Community Center, in addition to extensive onsite supportive services. Congratulations and thank you to all our partners and elected officials who made this incredible project possible.”
“New Yorkers need affordable housing and access to higher education to move ahead on the path to upward mobility,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “That’s why I’m proud that this newest mix-use development in Brooklyn will feature a satellite campus for Kingsborough Community College so that residents can take introductory college classes and other training that may be critical to their workplace success. We need more of these types of partnerships and I’m thankful to Mayor Adams and other city leaders involved in making Chestnut Commons a reality for giving New Yorkers the support they need to thrive.”
“Chestnut Commons is a perfect example of how saying yes to good planning and the creation of new housing leads to great results. With hundreds of new affordable homes and affordable retail space made possible by the East New York rezoning – this graceful energy-efficient building shows how equity, economic opportunity, and sustainability work hand in glove to create a bright future for New Yorkers,” said DCP Director Dan Garodnick.
The new 34,000 square-foot Cypress Hills East New York Community Center, operated by CHLDC, features a computer lab, gym and fitness studio, and a commercial kitchen that will serve as an incubator for culinary businesses in the neighborhood. The community center features a range of partners that provides programs for local residents:
- Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, operator of the Community Center, provides workforce development, public benefits enrollment, college success and youth and family services. CHLDC will also provide active recreation programs and use the kitchen incubator to provide industrial kitchen facilities and small business technical assistance to help launch and sustain neighborhood-based caterers, home-based food businesses, food manufacturers, and restaurant entrepreneurs.
- CUNY Kingsborough Community College is establishing a satellite campus in the center that offers college introductory courses and career track certification training programs. HousingPlus provides community-based housing and comprehensive services to women to support them in overcoming poverty, homelessness, addiction, trauma, and the effects of incarceration and help them build lives of stability for themselves and their families.
- Housing Plus will provide services to 55 formerly homeless households at Chestnut Commons while also welcoming the Chestnut Commons community.
- Menotti Enterprises, a safety consulting company, offers trainings and certifications for local residents interested in working in the construction industry.
- Per Scholas, a non-profit focused on advancing economic equity through tech careers, offers IT workforce trainings.
- Brooklyn Conservatory of Music offers music instruction to youth in the neighborhood.
- Collective Fare, a Black-owned chef-collaborative, will operate a healthy food café.
- Hot Bread Kitchen, a non-profit focused on creating economic opportunity through careers in food, trains women to enter the culinary sector.
- Cypress Hills-East New York Coalition will be distributing emergency food to residents.
To activate the Chestnut Dinsmore Corridor and provide additional retail options to residents and the community, there are three commercial spaces on the ground floor of the building, including:
- Brooklyn Federal Credit Union: In addition to traditional retail banking services, the credit union will pilot a credit building rent payment program and offer financial education and homeownership workshops.
- East Brooklyn Mutual Aid (EBMA): EBMA sources low-cost groceries from predominantly Black distributors and farmers and delivers them to New Yorkers, prioritizing elderly people, disabled folks, and low-income families. EBMA also partners with Collective Fare to support those who need support with meal preparation.
The development team also dedicated significant resources to make local hiring a priority and create jobs for community residents during construction of this project. Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation ran a construction skills training and certification program for local residents, free of charge. 30 trainees were further vetted by Building Skills NY and hired by Lettire Construction and its subcontractors.
“Chestnut Commons Apartments has provided an opportunity for MHANY to positively impact East New York, the neighborhood of our origin. Chestnut Commons Apartments, jointly with CHLDC and Urban Builders Collaborative, is the culmination of a partnership with a creative design team at Dattner; open-minded public partners at HPD and HDC as we negotiated the income levels to target for families specifically in ENY; supportive local elected officials; a skilled supportive service team in Housing Plus; and a willing partner to actualize our dream in construction with Lettire,” said MHANY Management’s Executive Director, Ismene Speliotis. “All of this hard work is gratifying beyond any expectation we may have had as we watch each family walk into their new home. MHANY believes where there is a will based on deep understanding of the community within which we are building and a respect for and towards each other the outcome is not only beneficial to the occupants but a cornerstone and beacon available to and embraced by the entire community.”
“Guided by the vision and aspirations of East New York community residents, we are proud to collaborate with MHANY Management and Urban Builders Collaborative to bring Chestnut Commons to the finish line. We are all proud to provide very deeply and permanently affordable housing and the larger sized apartments that Cypress Hills and East New York need. Our neighborhood-led, nonprofit organization has long dreamed of having a community center that would provide a one stop service hub for young people and families seeking supports and opportunities to advance educationally and economically. We now have that hub at Chestnut Commons! We are grateful to all the elected officials, government agencies and lenders that supported and financed this project in the middle of a global pandemic and to the major donors who made the Cypress Hills East New York Community Center possible: The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Bank of America and The Pinkerton Foundation. Neighborhood residents are super excited by the Kingsborough Community College’s satellite campus and all of the new services being offered at the community center by Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation and our numerous nonprofit partners,” said Michelle Neugebauer, Executive Director, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.
“UBC/Lettire is proud to be part of this revitalization that sets a new standard for community development and public private partnerships. Both MHANY and CHLDC’s dedication to this neighborhood, and overall mission, guided our team throughout, and pushed us to go above and beyond, exceeding expectations at every level, from local hiring to sustainability. Thank you to the East New York Community and all our partners that helped bring this project to fruition on-time and on-budget though one of the most challenging times we’ve seen in our lifetime,” said Matthew Gross UBC/Lettire, Partner/Managing Director.
This development is the direct result of work accomplished through the East New York Neighborhood Plan, which was released in 2016 as a part of the East New York rezoning. Chestnut Commons is the largest public site designated since the rezoning, which unlocked the potential to develop affordable housing where residential development was previously not permitted. It sits at the junction of a brand new 1,000 seat school and Atlantic Chestnut, another affordable housing site designated by the City that will bring 1,100 affordable homes developed by Phipps Houses. Through extensive collaboration with elected officials, sister agencies, and Brooklyn Community Board 5, HPD hosted a series of community engagement workshops to create projects that reflect the priorities identified by the community.
The project includes funding from HDC Tax-Exempt Bonds, HDC subsidy, HPD subsidy, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Brownfield Cleanup Program Tax Credits, Bank of America, and Reso A funds from Mayor Adams during his time as Brooklyn Borough President and former Council Member Rafael L. Espinal.
“Not only will Chestnut Commons be a home for many, but it will be a hub of education and opportunity for residents of all ages and backgrounds,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Chestnut Commons is an excellent example of what happens when partners with the same goals in mind come together to build safe, connective, and sustainable spaces for our neighbors. With social services, job support, recreational spaces, and so much more, this affordable housing project exemplifies what it means to build a community. Better yet, these 275 homes are all permanently affordable, reflect community input, and incorporate environmental elements like solar panels and a rooftop garden. Thank you to everyone who made this possible for our East New York community.”
“The Chestnut Commons Apartments are long overdue for the residents of Cypress Hilsl and East New York. I am both excited and relieved to know that more public community space will readily be available for the constituents of North Brooklyn. I’m looking forward to my office’s continual partnership with the space and having many community events together in the years to come,” said Senator Julia Salazar.
“The new Chestnut Commons will not only bring more affordable housing to Cypress Hills hill but creates an infrastructure that will support residents and the community’s well-being by providing much needed resources,” said Representative Nydia Velázquez. “From a Community Center to a food hub, I am proud of the community leaders who for several years championed these essential community assets and services. Thank you to City officials and local partners for this new development, success is accomplished when the community is included in the planning and development process. I look forward to visiting soon.”
“Our City needs more developments like Chestnut Commons. This passive-house project includes permanently affordable housing, educational and recreation space, and workforce development, among other features. Chestnut Commons is a testament to Cypress Hills LDC, Urban Builders Collaborative, and the Mutual Housing Association of New York’s commitment to serving East New York. I want to thank the development team, the City, my Council predecessors for ushering this project to completion,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse.
“The East New York Neighborhood plan is accomplishing what we hoped for. It is bringing much needed affordable housing while making comprehensive investments to address the economic and social challenges East New Yorkers have wrestled with for decades. Thank you and congratulations to HPD, MHANY and Cypress Hills local development Corporation for their hard work over the years to being Chestnut Commons into fruition,” stated former Council Member Rafael Espinal.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)
HPD promotes quality and affordability in the city’s housing, and diversity and strength in the city’s neighborhoods because every New Yorker deserves a safe, affordable place to live in a neighborhood they love. We maintain building and resident safety and health, create opportunities for New Yorkers through housing affordability, and engage New Yorkers to build and sustain neighborhood strength and diversity. To learn more about what we do, visit nyc.gov/hpd and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing