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Originally published June 10 2011

Anti-obesity housing unveiled in New York

by Neev M. Arnell

(NaturalNews) Its most notable features being two flights of stairs with lime-green railings, small silhouettes of dancing women and jazz playing through speakers, the Melody is a new apartment building in the Longwood section of the Bronx, built with obesity-combating design elements in mind. It is the first building of its kind in New York, city officials said.

The building was unveiled the morning of June 1 by Blue Sea Development Company, representatives of Habitat for Humanity and city officials. Development cost approximately $18 million and was paid for largely through bond financing, which was provided by New York City, New York State and the borough of the Bronx.

Les Bluestone, a partner of Blue Sea Development, said it was important to make the stairs (with their bright color and music) 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.

Early buyer Migdalia Santiago, said climbing the stairs would not bother him because he walks up four flights of stairs in his current residence near the Bronx Zoo. But now he may have a better idea about a small detail that he found during the unveiling. "I was wondering why there was no music in the elevator," he said.

A further dose of encouragement to climb the stairs hangs between the building's sole elevator and a staircase door. It reads, "A person's health can be judged by which they take two of at a time, pills or stairs."

The use of color, as well as sunshine, is a common design element throughout the building that is used to encourage exercise and movement. The sunshine-filled backyard has exercise equipment for adults done up in bright colors and climbing equipment for children, and its first-floor gym also lets in a lot of sunlight through four tall windows.

The development, at 853 Macy Place, is an eight-story, 63-unit co-op that was created for families with incomes below $90,000. It is expected to be ready for occupancy this summer, and contracts have already been signed for about 40 percent of the units. Prices start at $104,435 for one-bedroom apartments and go to $219,997 for three-bedrooms.

In 2010, city agencies in collaboration with health experts and architects released 135-page guide called Active Design Guidelines, on the construction of buildings that would encourage exercise and mobility. While the Melody was the first to incorporate those suggestions, city officials said other projects were also being developed.

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