The New York City Housing Authority recently announced that two of Harlem’s most prominent and Black owned private development groups will be undertaking repairs to the Frederick E. Samuel Apartments, with construction expected to begin in early 2023.
Through the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program, the recruited developers, Genesis Companies and Lemor Development Group, will be overseeing the building’s restorations and acting as the new on-site property managers.
Both organizations are exceedingly adept at managing this venture, as Genesis Companies specializes in “financing, developing and operating mixed-income and mixed-use residential projects,” according to their website, while Lemor Development Group is a minority-owned firm that focuses on affordable and workforce housing.
“As a second-generation real estate professional, it was my father’s vision to develop in the Central Harlem community he grew up in,” said Co-Managing Member of Lemor Development Group, Kenneth Morrison. “We are extremely humbled and honored to play such a pivotal role.”
Although Morrison analogizes the restoration of the apartment complex to a “dream,” it is no small feat. The main objective of the project is to repair all 664 apartment units that are home to approximately 1,379 residents across 42 buildings— many of which are over 100 years old.
However, this is a challenge that Morrison and his partner in this endeavor, Karim Hutson, the Founder and Managing Member of Genesis Companies, are undeterred by.
“Genesis has a long track record of successfully turning around some of the City’s most troubled portfolios, particularly in the Harlem community where we live and work,” said Hutson.
To ensure the project’s success, both developers (and NYCHA) are making it their top priority to retain direct communication with the building’s residents, in an attempt to guarantee that each repair is conducive to the needs of the community.
“The Authority is dedicated to enlisting the input of our tenant leadership and resident associations because they are best-positioned to weigh in on the improvements they would like to see,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ.
Thus far, residents have already engaged in open conversations with the public housing authority: including at a series of meetings, and as influential components during the partner selection process in early December.
“Our board took pride in selecting our partners Genesis and Lemor,” said Diana Blackwell, a tenant who has lived in the building for two decades, and is the current Samuel Apartments Resident Association President.
According to Blackwell, the board selected the two developers because they “are the best choice to meet the rehabilitation needs for the apartments and bring the essential services for the residents to improve their quality of life.”
In addition to the building’s rehabilitation —as a result of the development acting in accordance with the PACT program—the apartments will be “permanently affordable and maintain tenancy rights in line with those of public housing tenants,” according to NYCHA. This is made possible through the contracts that remain in perpetuity, and are renewed every 20 years, eliminating the possible risk of rent prices rising to market-rate levels.
Included in the building’s improvements will be the renovation of each individual apartment unit, as well as the shared common spaces, the building systems, and development grounds.
“Like so many public housing residents, the people who live in Samuel Apartments give so much to Harlem and New York City,” said Kathy James, another resident of the Samuel Apartments.
“I am excited to see what the future holds for our community under this new management with Genesis and Lemor so that residents get the repairs they deserve.”