Why Is Ellen Baxter Smiling?

Washington Heights and Inwood Report | October, 1993

Ellen Baxter has plenty to smile about. The Executive Director of the Committee for the Heights-Inwood Homeless has worked long and hard to acquire the Armory and turn it into housing for low income families and the homeless. Along with Dagmaris Cabezas, Director of Community Development, they were at a rally to hear Mayor Dinkins announce that they were given the lease to the Armory.

The Committee for the Heights-Inwood Homeless (CHIH) will develop and operate the Ft. Washington Armory
as part of a long-term lease arrangement with the City of New York. Ellen Baxter, Executive Director, and
Dagmaris Cabezas, Director of Community Development, nurtured the plan from its inception and negotiated
with the City for the lease.

The plan was announced by Mayor David Dinkins at a rally held at the Armory on West 168 Street on September 22. Surrounded by local politicians, and with chants of “Four more years,” the Mayor outlined the project’s features.

A tower will be built above the Armory on the Ft. Washington Avenue side that will extend back to cover about onethird of the Armory. The design will be similar to the original Armory building. The total of 200 permanent affordable apartments, scaled back from an original 275 units, will allow the tower to rise no higher than the surrounding medical center buildings. This will include 56 three-bedroom units, 94 two-bedroom units, 30  one- bedroom units and 20 apartments. The City requires that 30% of the units be set aside for homeles families and
the remaining 70% of the apartments will be made available through a City-mandated lottery which will allow for preference of local residents.

60% of the apartments apartments will be made available for low income families ($20,000) and 40% for
moderate income families ($40.000). On site social service programs will be provided as well as a day care center for infants and children.

Space will be leased out for potential use as a community theater an arts center and a youth center. Retail space will be built of which the rents will help subsidize the costs of running the building.

The 200 bed homeless shelter will be phased out and will be replaced by a 50 bed Transitional Living Community operated by the Center for Community Services. Transitional programs for about 100 homeless will be created and operated by Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp., Alianza Dominicana and the Association of Progressive Dominicans.

A separate lease between the City and the Armory High School Sports Foundation to restore and operate the indoor track facility for both high school use and local community use.

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