East Village’s Tanya Towers getting major overhaul


By Albert Amateau

Elected officials joined city and federal housing agency executives last week to celebrate the beginning of a $4.4 million renovation of Tanya Towers in the East Village.

The renovation of the apartment tower operated by F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services System at 620 E. 13th St. will include elevators, boilers, windows, concrete work and improvements to facilities that serve the 138 low-income residents, who are deaf, blind or have other disabilities.

The renovation will also include upgrades of the Tanya Towers gardens and community spaces, as well as improvements to “green” the building and achieve LEED-sustainable energy certification.

The major renovation project was funded, in part, by a $1 million capital grant from the City Council, sponsored by Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and a $500,000 grant from the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

An additional $2.9 million came through financing arranged through the New York City Housing Development Corporation.

The Tanya Towers renovation is part of the Bloomberg administration’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance 165,000 affordable apartments for about 500,000 residents by the end of the 2014 fiscal year.

“We all have a responsibility to create and preserve affordable housing in New York City, particularly housing that serves our most vulnerable residents,” Mendez told the Nov. 3 gathering at the E. 13th St. building. “I am proud to have been able to secure city funding for this project — one that ensures the disabled, mentally ill, hard-of-hearing and deaf communities have an enhanced quality of life and living environment,” Mendez said.

“Tanya Towers represents the best of New York City, a place where our most vulnerable residents can live with access to support services and community,” Stringer said. “I am proud to have played a role in the funding of new renovations that will sustain the use of this building and reduce its carbon footprint for decades to come,” he added.

“For decades, Tanya Towers has been a safe, stable and supportive home for people in need of special services and dedicated resources,” said Marc Jahr, president of the city Housing Development Corp. “We at H.D.C. are proud to be partner with F.E.G.S., the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Councilmember Mendez and Borough President Stringer in preserving this irreplaceable resource,” Jahr said.

Named after the late Tanya Nash, who served as executive director of the New York Society for the Deaf for 35 years, the towers opened in 1973. In 2006, the society merged with F.E.G.S., which assumed responsibility for all its projects, including Tanya Towers. The building was organized as a city and federally supported Mitchell-Lama project.

“I am delighted to be a partner in ensuring that this community has decent and safe housing for those most vulnerable in our society,” said Adolfo Carrion, regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The UJA-Federation of New York, one of the original supporters of services for the deaf, is a partner in Tanya Towers. The New York State Office of Mental Heath and the State Office of People With Developmental Disabilities are also partners in the project.