In 1994 an Urban Renewal Plan threatened to price out the residents of Melrose Commons in the South Bronx. In an effort to keep their neighborhood, the residents formed a community group aptly named Nos Quedamos — which in Spanish means, “We Stay.” The group, through persistence, successfully coerced the city into including housing that was within their price range and then made sure that the city built their new neighborhood as efficiently as possible. Melrose Commons is now the first neighborhood in New York State to receive LEED Stage II Silver Certification for Neighborhood Development by the U.S. Green Building Council.
When the Urban Renewal Project began the 7,000 residents of Melrose Commons had an average annual income of $12,000 which was too low for the middle income and mixed-use housing that the city had planned. The founder of Nos Quedamos was the late Yolanda Garcia. She decided the residents should stand up for themselves instead of quietly being displaced. The construction that followed has grown into a 35-block neighborhood that is full of affordable sustainable housing. The neighborhood even comes complete with windmill-topped buildings that generate electricity for residents.
Magnusson Architecture and Planning’s green arm, MAP Green, planned and executed the developments along with the developer Melrose Associates. Christine Hunter, a principal at MAP Green noted that they, “felt strongly that Melrose Commons should be certified because, from the start, the neighborhood-based team was committed to pedestrian-oriented mixed-use, mixed-income development, maintaining open space and incorporating sustainable design and construction techniques.”