4 MARCH 18, 2021 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
Three rent-regulated Glendale apartment buildings
undergo $5 million upgrade with new ownership
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, three rentregulated
apartment buildings in Glendale underwent
a $5 million tenant-in-place rehabilitation. It’s
the fi rst project under the city’s Neighborhood Pillars
program, which is meant to help preserve aff ordable
housing, to be completed.
Co-owners Rockabill Development, LLC, a Hobokenbased
development and consulting fi rm specializing in
aff ordable and supportive housing, and Selfh elp Community
Services, a nonprofi t that operates senior housing
complexes across the city and Queens, announced
the project’s completion almost two years aft er they
bought the three apartment buildings for nearly $16
million through the New York City Acquisition Fund.
The three, four-story apartment buildings, with 72
units in total, are located at 71-15, 71-21 and 71-27 65th
The co-owners worked with the New York City Department
of Housing Preservation and Development
(HPD), the Housing Development Corporation (HDC),
and City Councilman Robert Holden to provide all current
residents with rent-stabilized leases, including
those who didn’t have one previously.
Prior to the acquisition, residents could face rent
hikes by an average of $469 per month due to the mix of
unregulated and rent-stabilized units in the buildings,
according to Rockabill.
Now, Rockabill and Selfh elp will maintain the existing
rental aff ordability for a minimum of 40 years, as
part of an Article XI property tax exemption.
All 72 units, according to a Rockabill spokesperson,
are currently occupied.
For new tenants, should a unit become vacant, the
income bands may range from $45,500 to $109,200
for families of two, based on the Area Median Income
(AMI). Under the terms of the agreement, 11 units are
set for individuals and families earning no more than
50 percent AMI; 10 units for those earning no more
than 70 percent AMI; 24 units for those earning no
more than 85 percent AMI; 18 units for those earning
no more than 105 percent AMI; and 8 units for those
earning no more than 120 percent AMI.
Thirty percent of the apartments (36 units) will be
permanently aff ordable, and 15 units are set aside for
formerly homeless individuals and families.
Holden, who approved the project in 2019, told QNS
he’s glad the project is moving forward.
“It represents a common-sense approach to providing
aff ordable housing and fi ghting homelessness,” Holden
said. “People need housing and the safety and dignity
that it provides, not dangerous congregate ‘warehouse’
HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said they’re
proud of their partners for completing the project
under Neighborhood Pillars.
The program, which Mayor Bill de Blasio launched
in 2018, provides low-interest loans and tax exemptions
to nonprofi ts and mission-driven organizations
looking to acquire and rehabilitate unregulated or
rent stabilized housing for low- to moderate-income
“We are thrilled to see the fi rst project completed
under Neighborhood Pillars accomplish exactly what
it is set out to do — lock-in aff ordability and security for
families and communities,” Carroll said.
Rockabill Founder and Managing Partner Niall J.
Murray said the project’s success and their “collective
perseverance in the face of exceptional challenges
Repainted ironwork at the entry of 71-27 65th St. in Glendale, one of three rent-regulated
buildings recently upgraded. Photo credit: Tamara Frazier
proves that New Yorkers are the most resilient, brave,
and committed people there are.”
Selfh elp Realty Group Executive Director Evelyn
Wolff said it’s a privilege to be part of the city’s fi rst
Neighborhood Pillars program and Selfh elp’s fi rst
preservation deal. “Access to safe, aff ordable, and
stable housing is part of any strong and vibrant community,
and the ongoing pandemic amplifi ed these
needs,” Wolff said.
The project was a few months into an extensive
capital improvement campaign, in which developers
worked to upgrade existing conditions at the three
apartment buildings while tenants stayed in their
homes, when the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on the
plans in March.
But ConRock Construction, Rockabill’s construction
and contracting fi rm, was eventually granted essential
status to resume work. ConRock Co-President Bill
O’Connor said they got through it safely by “leveraging
technology to foster collaboration between construction
crews, building teams, ownership and tenants.”
They established several measures to complete the
project with a “human-centered approach” during the
diffi cult time.
In addition to following city regulations and site
safety plans, they also altered construction schedules
so as to not disrupt at-home learning for kids, worked
in common areas and building exteriors until the city
reached Phase 4 of reopening, hired a porter to ensure
advanced cleaning protocols, and posted weekly
notices with construction schedules and progress
O’Connor’s daughter, home from college due to the
pandemic, created a mobile app and daily checklist
in order to keep the 10 to 15 trades involved with the
project on the same page.
They also hired Massiel Sori Crisostomo, the partner
of buildings Super Daniel Tavera, as a tenant liaison.
Tavera and Crisostomo, who are both 29 years old and
have a 3-year-old daughter, began working at Rockabill
in June 2020.
Crisostomo, who lost her job as a dental assistant at
the height of the pandemic, was hired to help tenants
feel at ease with in-unit upgrades. She also became a
go-to project supervisor, ensuring the upgrades were
getting done properly.
“In the beginning it was a little bit tough,” Crisostomo
said. “But then they saw me and said I was really nice. It
was easy for me to connect with them, especially with
the young people.”
Crisostomo said that some tenants were “amazed”
to see a young couple, both of whom are Dominican,
working together to help the buildings’ improvement.
“I told them, ‘If I’m here at home doing nothing, why
shouldn’t I help him out? If I help him then I can succeed
as well,” she said, referring to Tavera. “Now, we’re
trying to keep everything in place — the garbage, work
orders — so it can run as smoothly as before. But the
tenants themselves say the building changed a lot.”
Rehabilitation of the three apartment buildings
means outdated cloth wiring has been fully replaced
to ensure reliable electricity, new windows were installed
to improve energy effi ciency, violations were
corrected and work to address aging infrastructure
like facade repair and roofs are completed.
Another measure developers implemented during
the pandemic was establishing a dedicated phone number
and answering service operated by Selfh elp to assist
tenants with benefi ts, food deliveries, and in-home
case management, as well as facilitate communication
with at-risk or senior tenants.
Katie Devine, a principal at Rockabill, told QNS that
while the Richmond-Hill based company Wavecrest
Management is the property manager for the buildings,
they are “unusually involved owners.”
Devine said establishing crucial partnerships, like
theirs with Selfh elp, and working with individual
families’ needs to improve living conditions is the way
aff ordable housing “can be most successful.”
“The Neighborhood Pillars program is so important
in that it’s a program that enabled us to take these units
in a neighborhood where the rents are going up, and be
able to stabilize those rents and retain the community
in those buildings that already existed,” Devine said.