NYCHA selects MDG, Essence, and Wavecrest Management to renovate multiple Lower East Side buildings under PACT/RAD


NYCHA selects MDG, Essence, and Wavecrest Management to renovate multiple Lower East Side buildings under PACT/RAD

Seward Park Extension was completed in 1973 by William F. Pedersen & Associates. In total, the Lower East Side complex has 796 residents in 360 units between two different sites: Seward Park Extension West and Seward Park Extension East. (Kidfly182/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

In New York’s Lower East Side, multiple NYCHA towers will be renovated by MDG Design + Construction, Essence Development, and Wavecrest Management. The affected buildings are Meltzer Tower, Rafael Hernandez Houses, and Seward Park Extension

The multi-building renovation is part of NYCHA’s PACT/RAD program, which converts Section 9 public housing into Section 8 housing operated by private landlords, in this case Wavecrest Management, a Queens-based property management company. The PACT partner, Essence, is also renovating Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea Houses in Manhattan’s west side under PACT/RAD. 

Wavecrest Management is the current property manager for other former NYCHA developments like Ocean Bay Bayside in Far Rockaway, Queens. Wavecrest Management and MDG have a professional partnership they call RDC Development, which is performing similar renovations at other NYCHA properties including Eastchester Gardens and Boston Secor in the Bronx, Bay View Houses and Williamsburg Houses in Brooklyn, and others. 

Meltzer Tower existing
Meltzer Tower is a 20-story building for seniors. It has 251 residents across 231 units. (Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Cumulatively, 740 units where 1,327 people live will be directly impacted by the Lower East Side renovations. Meltzer Tower, completed in 1971 by Morris Ketchum & Associates, and Rafael Hernandez Houses (also by Ketchum) are about a half mile from Seward Park Extension, a complex spread across two sites finished in 1973 by William F. Pedersen & Associates. Now, MDG Design + Construction—a Woodbury, Long Island office—has been tapped to upgrade the buildings. 

The design team has been tasked with implementing a comprehensive improvement plan for Meltzer Tower, Hernandez Houses, and Seward Park Extension under PACT/RAD. Renderings by MDG show new awnings and landscaping upgrades at all three developments. The plan will deliver multiple building and site renovations, new property management, and a Social Service Plan to “uplift community services” at all sites, Wavecrest Management said.

NYCHA Hernandez Houses
Improvements at Hernandez Houses (Courtesy RDC Development)
NYCHA Meltzer Tower renderings
Improvements at Meltzer Tower (Courtesy RDC Development)

“NYCHA’s PACT program is one of the most exciting and effective tools available to repair buildings and improve the lives of residents across New York City,” MDG, Essence, and Wavecrest Management told AN in a joint statement. “In our shared experience, the key to transformative outcomes is consistent, transparent communication with residents. We’re excited to work alongside all residents and both the Seward Park Extension Resident Association and the Meltzer Tower Resident Association to revitalize the two sites and provide enhanced social services, while ensuring homes remain affordable.”

The development team maintains that, in lieu of the conversions from public to private control under PACT/RAD, the buildings will have affordable rents and resident protections. Christopher Marte, a New York City Council Member whose jurisdiction includes Seward Park Extension, Hernandez Houses, and Meltzer Tower, has been vocal about his concerns for the project, however, and what privatization might entail.

NYCHA Seward Park Extension new renderings
Rendering of new awning and landscape improvement at Seward Park Extension (Courtesy RDC Development)

There’s a lot to be concerned about,” Marte told AN. “A majority of people at Seward Park Extension did not want to go through with this. We had tenants collecting signatures, organizing, and coming to meetings to speak out against the project. But because of one person’s vote—[the tenant association president’s]—it’s going through.”

“The biggest issue that I have is that the development team is selling a dream based on false information,” Marte added. “They come in, they say ‘We’re going to fix your stove’ and ‘We’re going to fix everything in your building’ and that ‘The only way we can repair your buildings is PACT.’ But this program does not need to happen for these improvements to happen, so it’s based on a false premise. There are other ways to fix these buildings,” he continued. “They’re essentially trying to hoodwink and trick residents of public housing. It’s frustrating to see my colleagues in the City Council support this program when we know how flawed it is.”

For next steps, MDG, Wavecrest, and Essence will compile an existing conditions survey of the three developments and meet with NYCHA residents to ascertain their needs. From there, the development team will determine the renovation approach based on the survey.

Essence-RDC Team is committed to decision making based on the condition of the building and input from the residents and NYCHA, MDG, Essence, and Wavecrest Management told AN. “We are working with a team of engineers, architects, and contractors to assess each building. Once that is complete, we will review the findings with residents to make a decision on the best path for each development, which will result in equal, sustainable, and resilient housing for all families.