Co-op City, as seen from the east, sits along the Hutchinson River.
Location in New York City
|City||New York City|
|Community District||The Bronx 10|
|Named for||Short for Cooperative City|
|• Total||2.42 km2 (0.936 sq mi)|
|• Density||18,000/km2 (47,000/sq mi)|
|• Median income||$43,431|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Co-op City (short for Cooperative City) is a cooperative housing development located in the Baychester section of the borough of the Bronx in northeast New York City. It is bounded by Interstate 95 to the southwest, west, and north and the Hutchinson River Parkway to the east and southeast. With 43,752 residents as of the 2010 United States Census, it is the largest housing cooperative in the world.
Co-op City was formerly marshland before being occupied by an amusement park called Freedomland U.S.A. from 1960 to 1964. Construction began in 1966 and the first residents moved in two years later, though the project was not completed till 1973. The construction of the community was sponsored by the United Housing Foundation and financed with a mortgage loan from New York State Housing Finance Agency.
Co-op City's 15,372 residential units, in 35 high rise buildings and seven clusters of townhouses, make it the largest single residential development in the United States. It sits on 320 acres (1.3 km2), though only 20% of the land was developed, leaving many green spaces. The apartment buildings, referred to by number, range from 24 floors to as high as 33. There are four types of buildings; Triple Core (26 stories high with 500 apartment units per building), Chevron (24 stories; 414 units), Tower (33 stories; 414 units) and Town House. The 236 townhouses, referred to by their street-name cluster, are three stories high and have a separate garden apartment and upper duplex three-bedroom apartment.
Co-op City is divided into five sections. Sections one to four are connected and section five is separated from the main area by the Hutchinson River Parkway. Each street in a section is denoted by a letter of the alphabet. All streets in section one begin with the letter "D", section two begins with the letter "C", section three with the letter "A", section four with the letter "B" and section five with the letter "E".
This "city within a city" also has eight parking garages, three shopping centers, a 25-acre (100,000 m2) educational park, including a high school, two middle schools and three grade schools (the high school, Harry S. Truman High School, is unusual for having a planetarium on the premises), power plant, a 4-story air conditioning generator and a firehouse. More than 40 offices within the development are rented by doctors, lawyers, and other professionals and there are at least 15 houses of worship. Spread throughout the community are six nursery schools and day care centers, four basketball courts and five baseball diamonds. The adjacent Bay Plaza Shopping Center has a 13-screen multiplex movie theater, department stores, and a supermarket.
The development was built on landfill; the original marshland still surrounds it. The building foundations extend down to bedrock through 50,000 pilings, but the land surrounding Co-op's structures settles and sinks a fraction of an inch each year, creating cracks in sidewalks and entrances to buildings.
Most streets in the community are named after notable historical personalities:
Other streets include:
Originally, the land north of the Hutchinson River Parkway was a large swampy area known by residents as "the dump". By the '50s, most of the land on the north side of the Hutchinson River was flat land used for recreation; for example, model airplane flying meets were held there. It was possible to drive up to the Hutchinson River, walk along several paths through the reeds, and swim in the Hutchinson River.
The land to the south of the Hutchinson River (now Section 5 of Co-op City) was unspoiled swampland from the 1950s up through the time Co-op City was constructed. A tidal estuary reached from the Hutchinson River at the New Haven Railroad along a route just north of Hunter and Boller Avenue to pass under the Hutchinson River Parkway. The estuary was the site of boat yards and canoe rental sites during the 1950s. A well-known restaurant and a night club at that site was Gus's Barge, operated by Gus and Francis Erickson, featuring jazz combos and other forms of live music. The Ericksons also operated a boat yard that rented slips as well as specialized in refurbishing wooden boats, primarily motor boats made from teak and mahogany. The Ericksons sold their property in 1961–62.
The site later became the home of a 205-acre theme park named Freedomland U.S.A.. Freedomland operated from June 19, 1960 until September 1964, when it was closed after going bankrupt.
Construction on Co-op City began in May 1966. Residents began moving in during December 1968, and construction was completed in 1973. The project was sponsored and built by the United Housing Foundation, an organization established in 1951 by Abraham Kazan and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and was designed by cooperative architect Herman J. Jessor. The name of the complex's corporation itself was later changed to RiverBay at Co-op City.
The construction of the community was financed with a mortgage loan from New York State Housing Finance Agency (HFA). The complex defaulted on the loan in 1975 and has had ongoing agreements to pay back HFA, until 2004 when it was financially unable to continue payments due to the huge costs of emergency repairs. New York Community Bank helped RiverBay satisfy its $57 million mortgage obligation, except for $95 million in arrears, by refinancing the loan later that same year. This led to the agreement that Co-op City would remain in the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program for at least seven more years as a concession on the arrears and that any rehabilitation that Co-op City took on to improve the original poor construction (which happened under New York State's watch) would earn credit toward eliminating the debt. By 2008, RiverBay had submitted enough proof of construction repairs to pay off the balance of arrears to New York State. c Mismanagement, shoddy construction, and corruption led to the community's defaulting on its loan in 1975. The original Kazan board resigned, and the state took over control. Cooperators, faced with a 25 percent increase in their monthly maintenance fees, organized a rent-strike. New York State threatened to foreclose on the property and evict the tenants, which would mean the loss of their equity. However, cooperators stayed united and held out for 13 months (the longest and largest rent-strike in United States history) before a compromise was finally reached, with mediation from then Bronx Borough President Robert Abrams and then Secretary of State Mario Cuomo. Cooperators would remit $20 million in back pay, but they would get to take over management of the complex and set their own fees.
The shares of stock that prospective purchasers bought to enable them to occupy Co-op City apartments became the subject of protracted litigation culminating in a United States Supreme Court decision United Housing Foundation, Inc. v. Forman, 421 U.S. 837 (1975).
Within the first decade of the 2000s, the aging development began undergoing a complex-wide $240 million renovation, replacing piping and garbage compactors, rehabilitating garages and roofs, upgrading the power plant, making facade and terrace repairs, switching to energy-efficient lighting and water-conserving technologies, replacing all 130,000 windows and 4,000 terrace doors (costing $57.9 million in material and labor) and all 179 elevators. The word "renaissance" is being used to describe this period in Co-op City history. Many of these efforts are also helping in the "greening" of the complex: the power-plant will be less polluting, the buildings will be more efficient and recycling efforts will become more extensive. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) awarded its largest ever grant—$5.2 million—to the community under its NY Energy $mart Assisted Multifamily Program.
In 2003, after a partial collapse in one garage, inspectors found 5 of the 8 garages to be unsafe and ordered them closed for extensive repairs. The other 3 garages were able to remain partially open during repairs. To deal with the parking crisis, New York City allowed angled parking in the community, the large greenways in the complex were paved over to make outdoor parking lots and agreements were made with nearby shopping centers to use their extra parking spaces. All garages were re-opened by January 2008, and work began to restore the greenways that had been paved.
Financial responsibility for these upgrades was the subject of a protracted dispute between RiverBay and the State of New York. Co-op City was developed under New York's Mitchell-Lama Program, which subsidizes affordable housing. RiverBay charged that the state should help with the costs because of severe infrastructure failures stemming from the development's original shoddy construction, which occurred under the supervision of the state. The state countered that RiverBay was responsible for the costs because of its lack of maintenance over the years. In the end, a compromise had the state supplying money and RiverBay refinancing the mortgage, borrowing $480 million from New York Community Bank in 2004, to cover the rest of the capital costs.
In 2007, the power plant was in the process of upgrading from solely managing the electricity brought in from Con Edison to a 40-megawatt tri-generation facility with the ability to use oil, gas or steam (depending on market conditions) to power turbines to produce its own energy. The final cost of this energy independence could be as much as $90 million, but it is hoped to pay for itself with the savings earned—with conservative estimates at $18 million annually—within several years. Also, whatever excess power generated after satisfying the community's needs will be sold back to the electrical grid, adding another source of income for RiverBay.
In September 2007, a report by the New York Inspector General, Kristine Hamann, charged that the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), which is responsible for overseeing Mitchel-Lama developments, was negligent in its duties to supervise the contracting, financial reporting, budgeting and the enforcement of regulations in Co-op City (and other M-L participants) during the period of January 2003 to October 2006. The report also chided Marion Scott management for trying to influence the RiverBay Board by financing election candidates and providing jobs and sports tickets to Board members and their family/friends—all violations of DHCR and/or RiverBay regulations. The DHCR was instructed to overhaul its system of oversight to better protect the residents and taxpayer money.
In October 2007, a former board president, Iris Herskowitz Baez, and a former painting contractor, Nickhoulas Vitale, pleaded guilty to involvement in a kickback scheme. While on the RiverBay Board, Baez steered $3.5 million in subsidized painting contracts for needed work in Co-op City apartments, to Vitale's company, Stadium Interior Painting, in exchange for $100,000 in taxpayer money. Ms. Herskowitz Baez was sentenced to 6 months in jail, 12 months probation and given a $10,000 fine in March 2008.
RiverBay Corporation is the corporation that operates the community and is led by a 15-member board of directors. As a cooperative development, the tenants run the complex through this elected board. There is no pay for serving on the board. The corporation employs over 1000 people and has 32 administrative and operational departments to serve the development.
The complex has its own Public Safety Department with more than 100 sworn officers, which include field patrol, plainclothes detectives and EMT/AED certified members of the force. All members have also attained peace officer status by NY State because of their special training. In December 2007, the cable television company Cablevision gave RiverBay permission to use its fiber optic cables in order to install additional surveillance cameras throughout the complex to be viewed at the Public Safety Command Center. In 2008, trained supervisors were granted the power to write summonses for parking and noise violations and Segways were acquired–along with bikes–to help the officers patrol during the warmer months.
Co-op City was managed by Marion Scott Real Estate, Inc. from October 1999 to November 2014. Before then the property was run by in-house general managers. The development is currently managed by Douglas Elliman Property Management.
There are two weekly newspapers serving the community: Co-op City Times (the official RiverBay paper) and City News.
As of January 2010, those who wish to move into Co-op City must meet the following requirements:
The following fees vary depending on the number of rooms and occupants:
|Number of bedrooms||Sales prices||Income requirement||Maintenance fee|
|One||$13,500–$18,000||$24,444 minimum/$83,238 maximum*||$675–$919|
|Two||$20,250–$22,500||$36,687 minimum/$121,868 maximum*||$1023–$1465|
|Three||$27,000–$29,250||$48,888 minimum/$156,341 maximum*||$1,355–$1,457|
|*Seniors have a reduced minimum income of between $21,999 and $47,684|
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Co-Op City was 43,752, an increase of 3,076 (7.6%) from the 40,676 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 857.55 acres (347.04 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 51.0 inhabitants per acre (32,600/sq mi; 12,600/km2). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 8.5% (3,723) White, 60.5% (26,452) African American, 0.2% (108) Native American, 1.2% (522) Asian, 0.0% (7) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (125) from other races, and 1.6% (681) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 27.7% (12,134) of the population.
The entirety of Community District 10, which comprises Co-op City and Throggs Neck, had 121,868 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 81.1 years.:2, 20 This is about the same as the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.:53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are youth and middle-aged adults: 20% are between the ages of between 0–17, 26% between 25–44, and 27% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 9% and 18% respectively.:2
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 10 was $59,522. In 2018, an estimated 14% of Co-op City and Throggs Neck residents lived in poverty, compared to 25% in all of the Bronx and 20% in all of New York City. One in eleven residents (9%) were unemployed, compared to 13% in the Bronx and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 45% in Co-op City and Throggs Neck, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 58% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Co-op City and Throggs Neck are considered high-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.:7
Because of its large senior citizen block—well over 8,300 residents above the age of sixty as of 2007—it is considered the largest naturally occurring retirement community (NORC) in the nation and its Senior Services Program has extensive outreach to help its aging residents, most of whom moved in as workers and remained after retiring.
Co-op City was home to a large Jewish community during its early years, as well as Italian Americans and Irish Americans; many of them had relocated from other areas of the Bronx, such as the Grand Concourse. With African Americans making up a large minority, the community became known for its ethnic diversity. As early tenants grew older and moved away, the newer residents reflected the current population of the Bronx, with African American and Hispanic residents comprising the majority of residents by 1987. In the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the neighborhood received an influx of former Eastern Bloc émigrés, especially from Russia and Albania.
Co-op City and Throggs Neck are patrolled by the 45th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 2877 Barkley Avenue in Throggs Neck. The 45th Precinct ranked 28th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. With a non-fatal assault rate of 53 per 100,000 people, Co-op City and Throggs Neck's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 243 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.:8
The 45th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 75.1% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 0 murders, 13 rapes, 127 robberies, 239 felony assaults, 138 burglaries, 555 grand larcenies, and 106 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
The Co-op City Department of Public Safety, a private public safety force, enforces state and city laws on Co-op City property in order to protect them. The Co-op City Department of Public Safety currently employs more than 100 Public Safety officers and 10 civilian employees.
Preterm births are more common in Co-op City and Throggs Neck than in other places citywide, though teenage births are less common. In Co-op City and Throggs Neck, there were 110 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 10.3 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide).:11 Co-op City and Throggs Neck has a low population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 7%, lower than the citywide rate of 14%, though this was based on a small sample size.:14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Co-op City and Throggs Neck is 0.0075 milligrams per cubic metre (7.5×10−9 oz/cu ft), the same as the city average.:9 Fourteen percent of Co-op City and Throggs Neck residents are smokers, which is the same as the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.:13 In Co-op City and Throggs Neck, 24% of residents are obese, 13% are diabetic, and 37% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.:16 In addition, 25% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.:12
Eighty-seven percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is the same as the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 77% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," about the same as the city's average of 78%.:13 For every supermarket in Co-op City and Throggs Neck, there are 7 bodegas.:10
The nearest large hospitals are Calvary Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center's Jack D. Weiler Hospital, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in Morris Park. The Albert Einstein College of Medicine campus is also located in Morris Park.
The largest open space in Co-op City itself is the Greenway, which is located in the superblock connecting all of the buildings. The majority of Co-op City was built atop Givans Creek, a small stream that emptied into the Hutchinson River to the east. A small nature preserve called the Givans Creek Woods is located at the northern portion of Co-op City, near the intersection of Baychester Avenue and Co-op City Boulevard.
Co-op City Field, located on the waterfront of Hutchinson River at Co-op City Boulevard north of Bellamy Loop North, contains two baseball fields. Directly to the south is a proposed 1.4-acre (0.57 ha) waterfront park, which was announced in 2017 and is still in the planning stages.
Co-op City and Throggs Neck generally have a lower rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. While 34% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 16% have less than a high school education and 50% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 26% of Bronx residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.:6 The percentage of Co-op City and Throggs Neck students excelling in math rose from 29% in 2000 to 47% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 33% to 35% during the same time period.
Co-op City and Throggs Neck's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is slightly higher than the rest of New York City. In Co-op City and Throggs Neck, 21% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, a little more than the citywide average of 20%.:24 (PDF p. 55):6 Additionally, 75% of high school students in Co-op City and Throggs Neck graduate on time, the same as the citywide average of 75%.:6
Co-op City is served by New York City Bus routes Bx5, Bx12, Bx12 SBS, Bx26, Bx28, Bx29, Bx30 and Bx38, and MTA Bus routes Bx23, Q50, BxM7. These local city buses, with the exception of the BxM7, which is an express bus to Manhattan, connect Co-op City with subway services. Currently, there are no subway or Metro-North commuter rail stations in Co-op City (a plan to extend the IRT Pelham Line to Co-op City as part of the 1968 Program for Action ran out of money). However, as part of the Penn Station Access project to extend Metro-North service to Pennsylvania Station, the MTA plans to build a station at Co-op City, an idea that has been proposed since the 1970s.
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