ddm worked with the late Reverend Robert V. Lott, senior advocate and Founder and Honorary Chair of the Council for Senior Centers of NY, to build the first of its kind assisted living residence for low-income seniors.
Reverend Lott’s dream was to create a level of care for low income seniors that went beyond shelter to address the medical, nutritional and social needs of seniors too frail to live independently. ddm suggested that he apply for a new state program that guaranteed an operating income stream in the form of a monthly stipend to fund a combination of housing, meals and Medicaid services for low income, medically frail seniors. The challenge was three-fold: first, to create an entity offering the full range of services, and then to secure a site and the project financing to build it.
ddm worked with Lott to create a strong team with St. Vincent’s Medical Center and the nursing home of the Terrence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, each leaders in the field of elder care. ddm found a parcel of vacant land on Fifth Avenue facing Central Park. Due to its park district zoning classification which limited its height, it was not an economically desirable site for private housing developers. Using a community facility waiver, the site worked. Serendipitously, the lot was owned by an entity controlled by the secretive philanthropist, Charles Feeney, who agreed to give SFDS an option on the land to be paid at closing, which would occur several years in the future.
After a three-year financing effort, the Lott Assisted Living Residence was ultimately financed with tax-exempt NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) bonds, a benefactor, a variety of government loans, and grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank and the Dime Savings Bank. The building, designed by SLCE Architects, is gloriously situated overlooking Central Park. The 127 residents enjoy three meals a day in the 14th floor dining room with vistas in three directions. Each resident lives in an L-shaped studio and has access to a full range of medical and personal services as well as activities at the residence, in the garden and around the city. 117 of the residents live only on Social Security income (or SSI) and the other 10 are private-paying individuals. All enjoy the good life in this luxuriously appointed home.
The ddm/SFDS team also developed three senior housing projects financed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and known as 202’’s, the section of federal law which authorizes the funding. Designed by Schuman Lichtenstein Claman & Efron (SLCE) Architects, the Mount Pleasant, Casita Park, and Lucille Clarke developments offer over 180 bright one-bedroom apartments, community space and gardens.
Besides work with Father Lott, ddm also submitted and won two other NYS-awarded assisted living projects for seniors.
- “Older and Wiser: Finding Quality Elder Care in the City”, New York Magazine, September 11, 2006