Co-op City, The Bronx, New York City
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Co-op City is the largest cooperative housing development in the world. It is located in the Baychester section of the Borough of the Bronx in Northeast New York City. Situated at the intersection of Interstate 95 and the Hutchinson River Parkway, the community is part of Bronx Community Board 10.
Co-op City opened in 1968 and was completed in 1971. Its 15,372 residential units, in thirty-five high rise buildings and seven clusters of townhouses, make it the largest single residential development in the United States. Co-op City also has eight parking structures, three shopping centers, an educational park (including a high school, two middle schools and three grade schools) and a firehouse. The adjacent Bay Plaza shopping area has movies, department stores, and a supermarket. The apartment buildings, referred to by number, range from 24 floors to as high as 33.
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. It was designed by cooperative architect Herman J. Jessor. The name of the complex's corporation itself was later changed to Riverbay. As a cooperative development, the tenants run the complex through an elected board. There is no pay for serving on the board.
Co-op City is on the site of Freedomland, a former amusement park. Prior to its use as a theme park and residential apartments, a small municipal airport was established there. When traveling into the city southbound from I-95, it is one of the first sights that a traveler sees and the first vivid example of New York's urban immensity. The shares of stock which prospective purchasers bought to enable them to occupy Co-op City apartments became the subject of protracted litigation culminating in a U.S. Supreme Court decision United Housing Foundation, Inc. v. Forman, 421 U.S. 837 (1975).
Within the first decade of the 2000s, the aging complex began undergoing a large-scale renovation, replacing piping, rehabilitating garages, making facade repairs, installing new windows in every apartment and new elevators in every building. Who would pay for these upgrades created 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 responded that Riverbay was responsible for the costs because of their lack of maintenance over the years. In the end, a compromise was made with the state giving money and Riverbay refinancing the mortgage to cover the rest of the capital costs.
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