Identifying a Salient Redevelopment Opportunity for The Nation's Largest Adolescent Care Agency Covenant House
Covenant House is a vital source of support and advocacy for the city’s runaway and homeless youth, providing emergency shelter, transitional housing, and a host of other holistically supportive services. Through these services, which include healthcare, education, legal, and employment assistance, Covenant House strives to empower its youth with the necessary tools to escape the cycle of homelessness. As the need to strengthen the quality of the organization’s programming to meet growth projections became more acute, the adolescent care agency enlisted Denham Wolf to help identify and manage a salient redevelopment opportunity.
In the 1970’s, Covenant House New York (CHNY) purchased three buildings at the intersection of Tenth Avenue and 41st Street in the West Side of Manhattan. Since then, the outdated buildings have created a number of physical and organizational obstacles that prevent CHNY from serving more of the City’s vulnerable youth and improving the quality of services for the current population. Some of the challenges faced are caused by the facility’s inefficient layout and flow of the interconnected buildings, such as the cafeteria and health clinic; its entryway, which has been unsuccessful in fostering both a welcoming and privacy-protected atmosphere; and the building’s lack of sufficient common and shelter space. Denham Wolf began its engagement with CHNY by conducting a comprehensive feasibility study that examined how the properties could potentially provide the organization with a new primary shelter and national headquarters to curtail these roadblocks.
Our assessment involved an intensive review of CHNY’s current and future programming needs, land use and planning considerations, and a market study analysis and financial scenarios review. Our findings revealed an opportunity to build a new state-of-the-art purpose-driven facility on an adjacent City-controlled site mid-block along 40th Street formerly occupied by Hunter College. To advance this plan, Denham Wolf’s adept development team is now managing the implementation of a complex public-private partnership with the City of New York for the development of a 780,000 square foot mixed-use project on the site of CHNY’s campus. This plan requires the city to firstly take over the adjacent vacant building once used by Hunter College (in preparation for its demolition), which will subsequently make room for CHNY’s new 150,000 square foot headquarters. The remaining plot of land will accommodate 700 mixed income apartments and ground floor retail and community space. Our team skillfully crafted and administered the Request for Proposals, in conjunction with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), seeking a development partner for the project.
“From the beginning, Covenant House expressed their vision for identifying a real estate opportunity that mirrored the values of the organization. This goal, which greatly aligns with our mission-first approach when doing work for our clients, is what harmonized our partnership. ”
—Andrew Foley, Director of Development Services at Denham Wolf
This project will ignite transformative progress for both CHNY and the surrounding Hudson Yards community. CHNY’s shelter capacity will increase by 30%, decreasing the organization’s growing waitlist. From the moment youth enter the new facility, they’ll be greeted by an entrance designed to ensure that they feel secure and welcomed. Transitional housing opportunities will all be expanded in addition to the organization’s educational programming, mental health services, training/professional development, and on-site federally qualified health center.
Over its forty‐plus year history, Covenant House has fought to uphold its commitment of providing quality services and resources for homeless youth to successfully reintegrate into society. This project’s partnership will not only allow the organization to develop a facility that reflects its mission and core beliefs, but will also carve out a space for an economically diverse neighborhood built to justly serve New York’s low-income and special needs residents.