NYCHA plans $1.5 billion overhaul at Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea houses

New York City Housing Authority has set the stage for a groundbreaking $1.5 billion transformation, bidding farewell to aging structures to welcome a new era for residents at Manhattan's Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea houses. However, this ambitious plan isn't without its critics.
"At the end of the day, the residents here are going to have a much better experience," said Jamar Adams, founder of Essence Development.
NYCHA emphasizes that this substantial revamp is a direct result of resident input gathered through tenant leadership, working groups and surveys. Essence Development, led by Adams, secured the Request for Proposal and will spearhead the reconstruction.
“We have new developments that's coming online that could be amazing and have great amenities - like a doorman, security concierge, washer and dryer in units, rooftop spaces,” says Adams.
The proposed campuses extend beyond new apartments, incorporating health care facilities, community centers and grocery stores. Adams assures that 100% of current residents will receive new units, while apartments in need of service will undergo necessary renovations in the interim.
"We cannot have situations where residents are living in conditions that are not livable. Both NYCHA and PACT development partners will assist residents with maintenance conditions," Adams says.
The ambitious plan involves demolishing existing buildings, impacting around 4,500 residents. Adams estimates that over 90% will remain in their homes until replacement units are ready. For those temporarily relocated, he says rent will stay the same and relocation costs will be covered.
“They will be subsidized by the program if they’re relocated off campus but the majority will be relocated on the campus and so they will stay in those houses until the new building gets built,” says Adams. 
In addition to new NYCHA buildings, approximately 3,500 mixed-income units will be constructed, including 875 permanently affordable housing units across 15 new buildings. The project also is set to offer job opportunities available to all tenants. NYCHA sees the potential for this model in other neighborhoods.
"At the end of the day, it will come down to where it makes the most sense from a neighborhood perspective, and residents must be bought in," said Jonathan Gouveia, executive vice president for real estate at NYCHA.
NYCHA and Essence Development claim most residents support demolition. But sentiments News 12 gathered seemed varied. Some remain on the fence, expressing distrust in NYCHA's plans.
"We have a petition going around. People don't want the demolition. It's a lie and a scam. The structures are good. We need some fixing, but it's manageable," said Jacqueline Lara, a resident for 21 years. 
Louie Rotonodo, another resident, voiced uncertainty. "We're going to get new apartments, everything is going to be great. But we don't know what's going to happen. We're not paying for electricity right now. Who knows what it's going to be," said Rotondo. 
As the developer and NYCHA move forward, they stress their commitment to addressing the needs of NYCHA residents, ensuring new homes for everyone within an estimated eight-year timeline.