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Lois Weiss
Friday, May 06, 2011 -  Serviam Gardens has been developed by the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation on underutilized land leased from the Ursuline Bedford Park Convent in the Northwest Bronx.

The 158-unit Serviam Gardens II, the second phase on this site, was developed by Fordham Bedford using Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, a comprehensive set of guidelines to encourage green building practices by developers of affordable housing. Since January 2011, HPD has required the developers of new affordable housing construction and substantial renovation projects funded by the City to attain Enterprise Green Communities Certification by adhering to these criteria. The Enterprise Green Communities Criteria is the only national green building criteria designed for affordable housing.

The $68 million project serves 296 seniors and features an 8,000 sf green roof garden terrace and a 23,000 sf ground-level landscaping including an urban farm for residents’ use. Enterprise Community Partners helped fund the development.

Design firm Robin Key Landscape Architecture worked with Serviam through a collaboration with desigNYC and Enterprise Community Partners. They worked together to preserve the campus’ green space while encouraging interaction between the residents and students at the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula, a girl’s high school founded more than 150 years ago on the same site.

The interaction comes from an intergenerational garden on the site. Seniors who live in Serviam will plant food in the garden through a joint program with the students.

Serviam includes green elements that will reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions: a green roof to limit storm water impact—with a rainwater harvesting system—that will double as a recreation area; bamboo flooring; energy efficient elevators, lighting and appliances; low VOC paint, and low-E argon filled windows to improve building insulation.

There is also a movie theater, exercise room and other amenities within the building for the seniors to use.

The land for Serviam Gardens was acquired using resources secured through the New York City Acquisition Fund. The New York City Acquisition Fund offers acquisition and predevelopment loans to developers committed to the creation and preservation of affordable housing in New York’s five boroughs. The Fund was made possible in 2006 through an unprecedented partnership with the City of New York, Enterprise, major foundations and New York’s public and private investment groups.

The first phase of Serviam Gardens, Serviam I, was completed in October 2009 and consists of 83 units of housing.
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