Healthy Ever After

11729.24.11It sounds like the latest reality show: hundreds of low-income people are placed in a neighborhood or rural area where affordable and nutritious food is unavailable, especially for those without reliable transportation. The result is health problems like obesity, diabetes and related health problems – often for generations.

But “food deserts” are very real—even among seemingly busy, crowded communities. If healthy food and amenities are unavailable, the residents suffer the consequences.

So with the Arbor House, an affordable multifamily project in Morrisania, a poor South Bronx neighborhood, BlueSea Development had a different idea. Really different. Employing such ideas as:

11729.24.04-2Prominently-placed stairways with artwork and music to encourage residents to skip the elevator. (The elevators? Borrrrr-ing.)

A fully-equipped gym open to family members of all ages. Adults are more likely to exercise when they can keep an eye on their children.

A 10,000-square-foot plaza with walking trails and exercise stations.

Digital energy monitors in each unit. Every dollar a low-income resident can save on energy efficiency is a welcome gift.

11729.24.036-2A 170-foot “living green wall” whose plants help clean the air in the lobby and throughout the building.

And a rooftop greenhouse that grows vegetables hydroponically (without soil) year-round—and distributes the results to the neighborhood.

“The South Bronx is truly a food desert,” says co-developer (with Avery Seavey) Les Bluestone . “There is very little access to fresh produce for the community. The farm really helps get healthy food into the hands of the people who need it the most.”

11729.25.27For this reason, Arbor House is an NAHB 2014 Green Awards Overall Winner for the Multifamily High-Rise category. Read more about Arbor House’s pool, bike storage, Wi-fi access and other amenities to change a food desert into a family oasis in the current issue of Best in American Living magazine.

DON’T FORGET! Builders, architects, designers and all housing professionals: Got a project you’re proud of? Enter it in the 2014 Best in American Living Awards! Deadline September 30!

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