Ursulines’ Convent Reopens as ‘Green’ Housing for Seniors


Serviam Gardens, a new “green” affordable housing complex in a former Ursuline Sisters’ convent in the Bronx, formally opened this month with a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 3 at the Bedford Park site.

The 243-unit development for low- and moderate-income senior citizens was built on nine underutilized acres of the Academy of Mount St. Ursula campus, and it aims to improve the quality of its residents’ lives while reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gases.

The $68 million project’s green elements include a green roof with a rainwater recycling system and a view of the Manhattan skyline; energy efficient elevators, lighting and appliances; bamboo flooring; and the latest in insulation materials.

An intergenerational garden preserves the campus’ green space and allows residents to grow their own food. It also encourages interaction between the seniors and the students at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula, which was founded more than 150 years ago at the site.

Developed by the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, Serviam Gardens was built in two phases, with the first phase of 83 units opened in 2009. Financing was accomplished through a variety of city, state and federal sources and Chase Bank, with Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., helping to secure the funds.

The Ursuline Sisters, who have been a presence at Academy of Mount St. Ursula since 1892, leased the acreage for the housing complex to Fordham Bedford Housing, whose president is Msgr. John J. Jenik, pastor of Our Lady of Refuge parish nearby.

Serviam Gardens is the first project to completed under the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria required by the city since January for new subsidized housing projects.

“The Ursulines are pleased to be part of this wonderful accomplishment that provides affordable housing for the seniors of the Bronx, enhances the neighborhood, and adds to the beauty of the campus,” said Sister Mary Sullivan, O.S.U., provincial of the Ursulines.