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Rahway Survey Results Encouraging for New Jersey Regional Development

January 31, 2013 Comments off

Last week, The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) launched its new e-newsletter, Housing Previews! We thought we’d share one of this issue’s stories here – a take on the results from our recent Rahway Artists Housing Survey by Carol Ann Herbert, Chair of the Planning Committe, New Jersey State Council on the Arts. (Click here to read the rest of Housing Previews, and you can subscribe here.)

Carol HerbertCarol Ann Herbert is a member of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and chair of its planning committee. Ms. Herbert has also served on the board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies from 2008 to 2011 and is currently a trustee for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance as well as a board member and vice-chair of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

As a member of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, I spend a lot of time working with colleagues, organizations, and citizens to advance Governor Christie’s goals to foster thriving artistic endeavors and contribute to the growing vitality of the creative economy in our state’s diverse communities. While originally intended to measure market demand for their affordable artist housing development in Rahway, NJ; the results of a survey conducted by the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation have important implications for these pursuits.

The mission of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts is to improve the quality of life in the state by helping the arts to flourish. In addition to inspiring, entertaining and connecting meaningfully with residents, artists and non-profit arts organizations move more than a billion dollars through the state’s economy every year. This is why one of the specific goals of the Council is to build a state economy whose community and economic development strategies, plans and resource allocations at all jurisdictional levels feature the arts and culture. When I learned about the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) and discovered that it was planning projects in New Jersey, I was encouraged. Here is a group that recognizes both the human and economic impact of the arts.

When I discovered that the AFHDC has been officially named the redeveloper of a site in Rahway, NJ and plans to develop a building called the Rahway Residence for the Arts, I was even more encouraged. Rahway, a small city 21 miles southeast of Manhattan and located on the New Jersey Transit Northeast Corridor line, has been developing a vibrant arts scene as a revitalization strategy for the last decade. In 2007, the city completed a renovation of a historic 1,300-seat Vaudeville theatre located in the heart of downtown, which now houses the Union County Performing Arts Center. This September, a new purpose-built theatre, Hamilton Stage, opened a few blocks away and is providing opportunities for residents to experience the likes of American Repertory Ballet and Strangedog Theatre. With these two theatres, as well as galleries and city-sponsored arts programming, downtown Rahway seems a perfect fit for affordable artist housing.

In August, the AFHDC launched a survey of visual and performing artists, as well as others working in associated creative professions, to measure demand for the project they envisioned, which included 60 apartments and a cultural space that could be used both by residents to practice their art and the larger community. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts supported this survey and assisted in its promotion.

The survey remained open online for one month and over one hundred organizations assisted in publicizing it to applicable individuals. The full survey report, published this week, shows strong results. While the full report contains 60 pages of data and analysis, I will pull out a few of the most salient items here.

725 people out of 1,072 who took the survey (68%) expressed interest in relocating to the Rahway Residence for the Arts. Only four of these respondents currently lived in Rahway. As the project is currently conceived, it could bring as many as 126 new residents to the city, representing more foot traffic in the downtown; more dollars spent in local restaurants, shops, and convenience stores; and more homegrown creative capital. Just think of the numerous possible collaborations with the existing arts facilities in the immediate vicinity.

74% of interested respondents did not know about Rahway’s status as a growing center for the arts, but were excited enough by the project description as well as what they read about Rahway and other Actors Fund housing facilities that they felt the Rahway Residence for the Arts could be a home for them. This represents an opportunity for the City of Rahway, its businesses, landlords and non-profit arts organizations to capture new markets by continuing to raise awareness about their unique offerings.

Additionally, 82% of the interested respondents are currently engaged in work in New York City. Considering that the Rahway Residence for the Arts will be a three-block walk from Rahway’s New Jersey Transit train station and a 40-minute ride to Manhattan’s Penn Station, this piece of data indicates the power of transit-oriented development.

Overall, 68% of interested respondents were living outside of northern or central New Jersey, including the 32% living in Manhattan. This suggests potential for the region to attract residents from elsewhere by providing transit-accessible, affordable housing alternatives linked to exciting cultural activities.

From my perspective as a member of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the results of this survey suggest the possibility for cities and towns of our state to replicate this strategy and cultivate a strong creative economy. Proximity to Manhattan can be a benefit, but so can local assets such as historic theatres, committed leadership, and artistic, entrepreneurial residents. The Rahway Residence for the Arts is truly an exciting initiative and we at the Council will be enthusiastically supporting it through its next stages of development.

Editor’s Note: The full survey report can be found here. Along with our development partners, the Ingerman Group and Crawford Street Partners, AFHDC will be applying for low-income housing tax credits to raise equity for the project in the spring of 2013.

Learn more about the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, as well as all the free and confidential program and services of The Actors FundLearn more about the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Click here to subscribe to Housing Previews, the newsletter of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation. You can also sign up to receive the latest on The Actors Fund’s Workshops, Groups and Seminars, as well as our Special Performances, Events, Auction & eNews.
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Categories: Housing, Uncategorized

In The News: AFHDC, Monadnock & nARCHITECTS Win NYC’s Micro-Apartment Competition!

January 24, 2013 Comments off

adaptnyc_mir_rendering_fall_130114As you may have read here on Tuesday, The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC)Monadnock Development and nARCHITECTS have been chosen by New York City to develop an innovative building of modular micro-units in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood. The project was announced Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a news conference at the Museum of the City of New York, and since then, we’re glad to say, it has piqued the interest of many news outlets — and commenters! We’re excited that the project is getting so much attention, so we thought we’d share a round-up of a few of the reports we’ve seen! Click through to read more…

The Wall Street Journal: “NYC announces winner of micro-unit housing” (January 22, 2013)
WIRED: “Tiny Apartment, Big Winner: The Design That Won NYC’s Micro Contest” (January 23, 2013)
• Crain’s New York Business: “NY’s first micro-unit apt. building will be modular”
WNYC: “Bloomberg Unveils Design for City’s First Micro-Apartment Building” (January 22, 2013)
• CBS New York: “Bloomberg Announces Winner of Micro-Apartment Design Competition” (January 22, 2013)
• Curbed NY: “New York City’s Future Micro-Apartment Revealed!” (January 22, 2013)
• Popular Science: “Check Out The Winning Design For The Tiny New York Apartments Of Tomorrow”
Gothamist: First Look Inside NYC’s Tiny New “Micro-Unit” Apartments” (January 22, 2013) • Fox 5 NY: “Tiny Apartments”

Read Tuesday’s blog for more on the “My Micro NY” development here, and read the press release on The Actors Fund’s website.

Categories: Uncategorized

AFHDC-Monadnock team selected to develop “micro-unit” project in Manhattan

January 22, 2013 1 comment

adaptnyc_mir_rendering_fall_130114

At a news conference today at the Museum of the City of New York, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Mathew M. Wambua announced The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) and Monadnock Development have been chosen to construct an innovative, space-efficient building of micro-units in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood.  

We asked Rebecca Sauer, Project Analyst for the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation to tell us more about the project. You can also read the press release by visiting our website.

adaptnyc_mir_rendering_winter_construction_130114New York City is changing. As it strives to nurture and retain the creative and talented individuals that make the city thrive, its housing stock must evolve as well. The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) is honored to have been selected, in partnership with Monadnock Development Inc., to develop a residence in Kips Bay that uses modular technology and intelligent design solutions to showcase the “micro-living” concept. The project, dubbed My Micro NY, will cater to New York City’s expanding population of one- and two-person households.

Last July, under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mathew Wambua, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced the adAPT competition as an outgrowth of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council’s (CHPC) Making Room project. By studying the changing city, CHPC discovered a mismatch in demographics and housing stock. adaptnyc_mir_rendering_evening_dance_120910There are 1.8 million one- and two-person households and only 1 million studios and one-bedroom apartments to choose from. Affordability is also a major concern, preventing smaller households from accessing appropriate living environments. In order to encourage future development of these apartment types, the adAPT competition asked developers to propose concepts for a site in Kips Bay (at First Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets), allowing smaller units than regulations currently allow, and maximizing livability at the micro scale. Thirty-three development teams entered the competition, and other cities are following suit: in November, San Francisco legislators approved the construction of 220-square-foot apartments, and cities like Boston are launching projects to develop “micro-units” as well.

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New Yorkers want and need quality, safe, affordable housing as a base from which they can pursue their dreams and build the lives and careers they envision for themselves. We know this to be true throughout the performing arts and entertainment community that The Actors Fund has served over the last 130 years. Whether they have been working on Broadway for decades, or have just arrived in the city, these individuals are often worried about the stability and affordability of their living situation.

“We formed the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation as a subsidiary in 2009 for this exact purpose—to be active in creating new housing solutions that will benefit the performing arts and entertainment community,” said Joseph P. Benincasa, President of The Actors Fund. “The fact that My Micro NY has application for other communities and cities is a tremendous opportunity.”

“We are proud to be a member of the development team selected by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to be at the vanguard of implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s vision to provide a new and innovative option for attractive affordable housing that responds to the changing demographics and preferences of New York City’s residents,” said Scott Weiner, President of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation.

adaptnyc_mir_rendering_standing_tall_130114The groundwork for our team’s proposal lies within The Actors Fund’s experience co-developing and co-operating The Schermerhorn residence in downtown Brooklyn, which also contains very small units. Lots of natural light, well-programmed community spaces and cultural facilities are the key to enhancing the residents’ experience in the building. My Micro NY, designed by renowned firm nARCHITECTS, will be a tall and slender building with open floor plans that makes use of every inch — and features Juliet balconies. Each unit will be constructed by the Capsys Corporation at their Brooklyn Navy Yard plant, then transported to the site and erected by Monadnock. The Actors Fund will play a leading role in programming the building’s common spaces and creating opportunities for residents to participate in a creative community.

By employing a modular construction method, this project will be completed in a short timeline. Please check our website (www.actorsfund.org) for news and updates.

Read the press release.

Learn more about the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation.

Thanks From Those We Are Helping Post-Sandy

January 14, 2013 Comments off

Just a few of the Thank You notes we've received

Just a few of the Thank You notes we’ve received

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge the generosity of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), and their leadership in funding our efforts to help our colleagues hurt by Superstorm Sandy. BC/EFA acted quickly to grant $200,000 this past fall to The Fund, specifically for post-Sandy relief. This brought their 2012 giving to a total of $4,435,000. BC/EFA’s continuing leadership in providing critically needed funding for Actors Fund programs and services is inspiring and profoundly appreciated.

This support has been essential as we continue to aid those in performing arts and entertainment whose lives were affected by last fall’s storm. As of this week, the number of people we’re working with has risen to 608, and we have provided more than $300,000 in emergency assistance. In addition to our own resources, The Actors Fund is administering the financial assistance for SAG-AFTRA members through the Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund, SAG Foundation and AFTRA Foundation.

We’ve received a stack of thank-yous from the people we’ve helped so far (thanks to everyone’s support), and we thought we’d share a few of them with you:

I just wanted to let you know that I have received checks from The Actors Fund and Screen Actors Guild. I want to express my gratitude to you for your helpfulness and kindness during this period. I know there are others that are worse off than I, but your support throughout this process was reassuring for my particular circumstances and made me feel that I can now begin to move beyond the immediacy.

Your name and SAG will be with me when I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

A few of the thank you notes we've received from those in our community helped post-Sandy!

A few of the thank you notes we’ve received from those in our community helped post-Sandy!

This past week we received the two checks you said to expect. During this very difficult time, I can’t really express how much it means to me and my family to receive this support from The Actors Fund, the SAG Foundation and the AFTRA Foundation. It is providing much needed financial help, but also doing a great deal to keep our morale up as we go into battle with the insurance company, and face the enormous task of rebuilding while keeping a safe and serviceable living area for ourselves and more importantly our [children].

As members of the [entertainment] community my husband… and I have participated in countless events for The Actors Fund. Little did we think we could be the beneficiaries of your generosity. But, as advertised, “help is on the way.”

You have our heartfelt thanks.

and

As a member of SAG-AFTRA, and a Staten Island, NY, resident and surviver of Superstorm Sandy, I want to thank you, your social services staff, the Screen Actors Guild Motion Picture Welfare Fund, the SAG Foundation for coming to my aid.

I would like to give a special thanks to one of your social workers, Jill Lederman, who provided me with much needed crisis counseling and financial assistance, before FEMA, who also did a wonderful job in helping.

I am so glad and proud to be a member of SAG-AFTRA, and thankful to God for being here today to say, Thank You all from the bottom of my heart.

and

I am infinitely grateful to SAG for the support I received last month to pay half of my mortgage. I still have debts on my credit cards for the repairs in my house… You see, I have to make one step down, to enter the first floor of my house and the insurance is fighting me over it…affirming it is then a basement!!! Such changes their obligations…

Anyway, I have my health and a roof over my head, as well as being part of a great community of people like you.

PS: A special thank you to [Actors Fund Social Worker Lynnell Herzer], who so graciously answered my call and supported me when I most needed it.

There are many who are still dealing with the difficulties brought about by the storm. Do you need help, or know someone who does? Visit our Superstorm Sandy Emergency Relief Fund to learn more about what The Actors Fund can do.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stokes Goes Simply Broadway On Fox 5’s Good Day New York

January 10, 2013 Comments off

Brian Stokes Mitchell with Good Day NY's Rosanna Scotto and Dave Price.

Brian Stokes Mitchell with Good Day NY’s Rosanna Scotto and Dave Price. Click to watch Stokes’ performance!

Our tireless Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell continues to take time out to promote his new album, Simply Broadway, and accompanying project, which benefits The Actors Fund, as well as five special venues (the first was Lincoln Center in October). Stokes’ most recent stop was on Fox 5’s Good Day New York, where he chatted with Rosanna Scotto and Dave Price, and treated us to an absolutely breathtaking performance of “Feeling Good.”

Click here to watch the video.

For more information on Stokes’ Simply Broadway project, visit his website. To purchase copies of the Simply Broadway CD to benefit The Actors Fund, visit our store.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Fund Will Change Your Life – Our Staff Sings!

January 3, 2013 Comments off

412uk-0BFcL._SL500_AA300_We’re still riding our New Year’s high – happy 2013 everyone! – so we thought we’d share this bit of fun from our holiday party, which extolls the virtues of Actors Fund Membership and the joys of reading Curtain Call: 125 Years of The Actors Fund.

Kudos to Special Events Associate Stephen Joseph for writing the fabulous lyrics, Executive Assistant Matthew Kovach for his prowess at the piano, and our stars on the staff who took time out to entertain us all! (With apologies to Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and everyone at The Book of Mormon!)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLuk6x0QPdg]

To learn more about the (actual) benefits of becoming a member of The Actors Fund – and to become a member – click here. To purchase Curtain Call (or tickets, or other fabulous merchandise that benefits The Fund) visit The Actors Fund Store!

Categories: Uncategorized