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A new apartment building in the Longwood section of the Bronx is the first in New York to be built with an eye to combating obesity with its design elements, city officials say.
The building, an eight-story, 63-unit co-op that is meant for families with incomes of $90,000 or less, was unveiled on Wednesday morning by Blue Sea Development Company, representatives of Habitat for Humanity and city officials.
Known as the Melody, the building, at 853 Macy Place, has a sunny backyard with brightly colored exercise equipment for adults and climbing equipment for children. Its first-floor gym has four tall windows to let in the sunlight.
But the Melody’s most notable features are its two flights of stairs, which have lime-green railings, small silhouettes of dancing women and jazz playing through speakers.
Les Bluestone, a partner of Blue Sea Development, said it was important to make the stairs inviting, to encourage residents to skip the elevator. “It’s about making the choices obvious and simple, so you don’t have to think about them,” he said.
Near him hung a sign, between the building’s sole elevator and a staircase door, reading, “A person’s health can be judged by which they take two of at a time, pills or stairs.”
In 2010, the city released a 135-page guide called Active Design Guidelines, on the construction of buildings that would encourage exercise and mobility; it was compiled by city agencies in collaboration with health experts and architects. City officials said that while the Melody was the first to incorporate its suggestions, other projects were being developed.
Builders do not receive tax credits or compensation for following the rules in the guide, but doing so can earn them points in a rating system administered by the United States Green Building Council called LEED, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
The city’s guidelines are more detailed and specific than LEED rules, which reward builders who, for example, use less toxic paints or locate their buildings near subway stops. The city’s guide encourages windows in gyms, bicycle storage areas and stairways that are bright, centrally located and attractive.
Developing the Melody cost about $18 million, most of which was provided by the city, the state and the borough of the Bronx, largely through bond financing.
Mr. Bluestone said it would be ready for occupancy this summer. Contracts have already been signed for about 40 percent of the units, he said.
Prices run from $104,435 for one-bedroom apartments to $219,997 for three-bedrooms.
David Burney, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Design and Construction, said he was amazed that so many details could matter. “It must have just cost them a couple bucks to put in the music and art, but what a difference it makes,” he said.
Eric Miranda, a college student who, along with his mother, Migdalia Santiago, was an early buyer, said climbing the stairs would not bother him: he currently lives in a fourth-floor walk-up near the Bronx Zoo. But he was slightly surprised by what he found on Wednesday. “I was wondering why there was no music in the elevator,” he said.
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