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 runaway and homeless youth, providing emergency shelter, transitional housing, and supportive services. The roots of Covenant House’s 21 North American locations are in Manhattan, which remains home to the organization’s largest facility. As the need for capital improvements grew at this facility, Covenant House became eager to capitalize on the site’s rising property value and engaged Denham Wolf for guidance.
Through a multitude of services that include healthcare, education, and employment assistance, Covenant House strives to empower adolescents to escape the cycle of homelessness. The organization is active in six countries across North and Central America and serves more than 80,000 young people annually. In New York City alone, Covenant House provides shelter and comprehensive services to approximately 250 young people each day.
Despite Covenant House’s decades of history in New York City, its local shelter has long comprised found spaces. As these spaces aged, the three-building campus started to show wear and tear that did not reflect the high quality support provided by Covenant House to its youth. In addition, the inefficient layout and flow of the interconnected buildings created increasing challenges for Covenant House’s programs.
Denham Wolf was engaged to develop a real estate strategy that addressed the challenges of Covenant House's campus and, subsequently, to initiate the implementation of that strategy. Our Development Services team confirmed the rising property values in the newly defined Hudson Yards special district as an important new source of leverage for Covenant House, specifically because of the underused development rights of the organization’s property. After rigorously studying the development potential of the site, Denham Wolf defined and assessed a range of deal structures to unlock that potential. Among the options explored was a complex public-private partnership with the City of New York. Ultimately, our team guided Covenant House in the selection of a top private developer through a highly competitive RFP process.
“By facilitating this development partnership, we enabled Covenant House to conceive a fantastic new facility that will bolster its mission. In addition, this project has helped to carve out space for a diversity of New Yorkers in a booming Manhattan neighborhood.”
—Paul Wolf, Co-President at Denham Wolf
The project’s site, located on 10th Avenue just west of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, will soon house approximately 420,000 square feet of new development. A central component of the mixed-use project is a new state-of-the-art facility for Covenant House. Through this project, the site’s transitional housing opportunities will increase, and Covenant House will benefit from expanded space for its educational programming, mental health services, training and professional development programming, and on-site federally qualified health center.
In addition, the new facility will feature improved connectivity between program areas, and its entryway will be thoughtfully designed to be both welcoming and privacy-protected. As a result, the young people served by Covenant House will have an improved experience in every aspect of their interactions with Covenant House and, most importantly, will have an even stronger opportunity to reintegrate into society successfully.