Preserving a Memory With New Housing

The Community Builders (TCB) is a well-established affordable housing developer, and the Leviticus Fund has financed 10 of the nonprofit’s projects in New York and New Jersey. One of TCB’s latest developments involves partnering with a small, minority-owned development company, Thorobird Companies LLC, to construct a new, 17-story building in the Bronx that will provide 98 affordable rental apartments for seniors. Five percent of the units will be designated for households with mobility-impaired persons.

Thorobird acquired the property in 2018 from First Union Baptist Church to preserve a community institution from bankruptcy. The site’s existing building has fallen into significant disrepair and will be replaced with a new building that will include 4,500 square feet of space on the lower level that First Union Baptist Church will own and use for weekly church services, a food pantry and other community programs.

To support the project, we provided a $2.88 million acquisition and predevelopment loan, and structured the loan to help keep the project’s costs low to maintain its competitiveness for public subsidy awards. We also recruited another CDFI, Partners for the Common Good, to acquire a $1 million participation in the total loan.

In a wonderful tribute, the building will be known as The Louella in recognition of Bronx resident, Louella Hatch, who began her long legacy of service in the community in 1983. She opened a food pantry where she gave out canned vegetables, powdered milk, peanut butter, and fresh butter and cheese to anyone who needed help. Later, she hosted National Night Out Against Crime events, served as president of the 46th Precinct Community Council, started a block association, and held toy and clothing drives during the holidays.

The Louella will serve as a great new resource for seniors in the Bronx, for First Union Baptist Church, and for the entire community as it helps to preserve the memory of Louella Hatch. The project also aligns with Leviticus’ focus on promoting racial justice and economic opportunity by supporting Black, Indigenous, People of Color-led development companies.