On December 30, 2021, the City of New York unveiled The Norma, a 100 percent affordable condo building designed by the New York-based Leong Leong. The Norma was named after Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first African American woman to pass her architect licensure exam in both California and New York. The 11-story, 44-unit project is the first building of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Plan, an initiative announced in 2019 to provide more affordable living options in the quickly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. Brooklyn developer Almat Urban and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation partnered on the public-private project, which includes a mix of 1- to 3-bedroom units for low-to-moderate-income households.
“Since the 1960s, community activists and neighborhood organizations have forged partnerships with business and government to test new models of community development that play a stabilizing role in the neighborhood to this day,” said Louise Carroll, commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), in the project’s reveal.
The Norma’s design exhibits an alternating terra-cotta facade that extrudes past the floor-to-ceiling rectangular windows. The window openings from the second floor to the ninth floor will be angled away to allow occupants more sunlight, while the building will be topped with a shared roof space.
Almat Urban is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) development company that works specifically on multi-family residential projects. The Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is a Central Brooklyn-based community development organization that offers support to those who seek both professional and personal care. The hope is that having two local organizations work together on The Norma will reduce the stigma and impersonal nature of previous forms of affordable housing and will allow this new development to be more welcoming to the Bed-Stuy community.
In addition to providing more affordable and dignified housing options to the neighborhood, which will help long-time residents avoid displacement, the Norma includes a healthcare component at the ground floor which will be delineated from the residential portion through a vertically striated facade. The Brownsville Multi-Service Wellness and Health Center will operate a new urgent care facility there, providing services for adult medicine, pediatrics, physical therapy, OB/GYN, mental health, and dentistry, among other healthcare services.
With The Norma already checking off the affordability and health initiatives, the design of the building is also slated to comply with North American Passive House energy efficiency and sustainability standards. The Norma is able to achieve these standards thanks to a planned fully electric mechanical heating and cooling system.
No estimated date of completion has been made public for The Norma.