On a sunny, unseasonably warm January 11th morning, a crowd gathered for the groundbreaking of the Friedrichs Residence, a 4-story building of 61 affordable senior apartments on The Wartburg Adult Care Community’s campus in Mt. Vernon, NY. The building is named to honor long-time Wartburg benefactors, the late Juanita E. and Arthur M. Friedrichs of New Canaan, CT, whose $1,000,000 bequest provided the project’s initial funding. The Friedrichs Residence will become home for adults ages 62 and up, and it is expected to be the first LEED Certified residential building in the city of Mt. Vernon. The Wartburg’s Board, executives, administrators, staff and parishioners of United Lutheran Church, were joined by business and civic leaders for a blessing and earth-turning ceremony at the site, which had been recently cleared of a former outpatient health center.
Welcoming the attendees, Reverend Amandus E. Derr, Chairman of The Wartburg’s Board of Directors said, “We are so blessed here at The Wartburg. Generous donors such as the Friedrichs family and people with the knowledge, foresight and skills to plan and construct this new housing have come together to build once again on The Wartburg’s foundation of caring and compassion. This institution is nearly 150 years old, and the Wartburg still bears fruit in its old age.”
“This was a classic day in the history of The Wartburg,” said Charles T. Raynolds, Chairman of The Wartburg’s Foundation. “Since 1866, we have always been a group of ordinary people inspired by God to do extraordinary things. The coming transformation of the campus will enable us to extend our ministry of healing and hope to those in our care for decades to come."
“While this building project may be the 23rd undertaken on the campus, this groundbreaking ceremony celebrates the beginning of a new era for The Wartburg,” said David Gentner, President and CEO of The Wartburg Home and Foundation. “The Friedrichs Residence is the first step as we implement the strategic vision of ‘Extending the Wartburg’s Reach,’ to cover seniors of any income level or health need. We will implement this strategy along common sense principles in aging services – that we prefer to remain in the community of our choosing as we age. Seniors deserve modern and inspiring facilities structured around their needs and less so those of staff or facilities. Providing streamlined and customized supportive services can bolster the independence of older adults. It’s a vision of empowerment, resident choice, and embracing life’s changes, one that affirms that seniors deserve to live in comfort and dignity as they age.”
“This is a wonderful place,” said Representative Eliot Engel, of the 17th U.S. Congressional District. “The Wartburg is always on the move, and they will always have our support.”
Mt. Vernon’s Mayor Ernie Davis said, “We gather here to bring comfort and dignity to people whose shoulders we have stood on. What The Wartburg does here will be replicated by the next generation, and the next. In the future, let historians say, they had a date with destiny and they kept it.”
“I am proud to be here on behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and to see such a tremendous facility on such a great occasion,” said Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner and CEO of NY Homes and Community Renewal. “It takes ‘out of the box’ thinking sometimes, to get a project like this started. There is no formula; each deal has a unique circumstance that takes different people coming together using different approaches.”
Sindy Spivak , of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Community Development said, “The Wartburg has a distinguished track record of providing a home to people without one, first as an orphanage, and now for seniors. The Friedrichs Residence is part of Bank of America’s commitment to invest $1 trillion in community development nationwide. She added, “This project exemplifies the essential contributions of exceptional non-profits like The Wartburg. Commissioner Towns leads an agency truly committed to public/private partnership, and New York State has provided valuable resources to make this project happen. Since the establishment of the low income housing tax credit in 1976, Enterprise Community Investments and Bank of America have come together to invest $1 billion to support building projects like these.”
Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., a leading provider of development capital and expertise to create decent, affordable homes and rebuild communities, has raised and invested more than $11 billion in equity, grants and loans to help build or preserve more than 280,000 affordable rental and for-sale homes. They have created vital communities using public/private partnerships over the past 30 years. “Enterprise is committed to making sure all New Yorkers, especially seniors, have safe, affordable homes,” said David Magidson on behalf of Enterprise.
“The Friedrichs Residence will be the first pairing of HEAL grant funds with HFA financing in an affordable housing building,” said Ryan Herchenroether, The Wartburg’s Director of Planning. “We are grateful for the project team and our financial partners, Enterprise, Bank of America and NYS Housing Financing Agency, for going where others have not gone before.”
“The Wartburg has such potential for growth, and today we take the next step. As a fourth generation Mt. Vernonite,” said Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson of NY’s 36th District, “I support the positive things we can do for this community. Certainly the Wartburg plays an important role here.”
Mae Carpenter, Commissioner of Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services, attended the ceremony and said, “In 1961, the first White House Council on Aging set forth its mission that older people should live in dignity with choices and options. Ideas are like arrows; they don’t go anywhere without a bow. The Wartburg has been that bow for our community and will continue to provide choices as it always has. We are thankful that they will now be able to include affordable housing as part of their offering.”
In addition to the Friedrichs family’s generous bequest, funding also came from The New York State Housing Finance Agency (HFA) which issued $8,600,000 in tax-exempt bonds as part of the federal New Issue Bond Program. HFA will also provide a $500,000 subsidy loan as part of the project’s financial sources. Enterprise Community Investment is providing the tax credit equity investment and Bank of America, N.A. is providing the letter of credit for the bond issuance’s construction period.
The Friedrichs Residence is slated for completion in December 2012, with occupancy beginning shortly thereafter. The Wartburg will be holding two public information sessions for the community later this year regarding rental opportunities for the studio and one bedroom apartments.
The Wartburg Adult Care Community is a not-for-profit Lutheran ministry, serving people of all faiths with a full range of residential options and health-related services for older area adults and their families. The Wartburg offers skilled nursing care, rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and independent living, adult day services, home care, pastoral care and monthly caregiver support groups. The Wartburg is a member organization of the National Center for Creative Aging. For more information about The Wartburg Adult Care Community or to support its mission, please call (914) 699-0800, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thewartburg.org .