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Urban Resource Institute Buys $64M Stake in Bronx Homeless Shelter

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A nonprofit homeless services contractor bought a $64 million stake in a Bronx development site where a six-story shelter for homeless families is underway.

Urban Resource Institute (URI) inked the deal March 7 to buy an interest in 951 Olmstead Avenue from Heights Advisors, a Brooklyn-based real estate investment firm that is developing a 161-unit homeless shelter on the property, according to property records filed Wednesday and city building permits.

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The New York City Department of Homeless Services selected the site on the corner of Olmstead Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard for a new homeless shelter in 2016, the Bronx Times reported. But the project stalled until 2020, when the agency unveiled a new proposal for a 161-unit shelter operated by URI. 

The shelter is one of dozens the city has undertaken as part of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to shutter the city’s network of dangerous “cluster” shelters and launch a new construction pipeline for shelters built from the ground up. 

A spokesperson for homeless services said as part of the transition, the agency now awards 30-year contracts that allow nonprofit operators to own shelters, giving them greater control over the site and fixing the city’s real estate costs.

It’s a cost-saving measure in the long-run, the spokesperson said. 

“This new, high-quality, nonprofit-owned transitional housing facility will offer dedicated supports and services to families with children experiencing homelessness, providing them the opportunity to get back on their feet during a time of crisis and ultimately transition to permanent housing,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Spokespeople for URI and Heights Advisors did not respond to requests for comment.

URI is the largest operator of domestic violence shelters in the country and has lately made other forays into New York City’s shelter system. It won a contract to open a new shelter for homeless families in the Bronx and took over a shelter in Brooklyn from its previous operator, according to the organization’s website.

The nonprofit has been awarded a total of $2.2 billion in city contracts for homeless shelters and other social services, according to the city’s public contract portal.

Heights Advisors, for its part, signed a 50-year lease in 2014 for the 24,500-square-foot vacant lot with landlord Richard Civitano, president of Olmstead Estates, property records show. 

The Brooklyn-based developer filed permits to begin building the future shelter in 2018.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.