HMFA Board Approves Funding for the New Jersey Blight Reduction Program, Housing for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care and the Renovation of the Former New Jersey Bell Telephone Building in Newark
TRENTON – At its July board meeting, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) board approved funding to target blighted areas in Atlantic City, Camden and Newark. Financing was also committed to create housing to assist youth aging out of foster care and to transform a landmark Newark building to a mix of residential, commercial and retail space.
The board authorized up to $20 million for the New Jersey Blight Reduction Program (NJBRP), aimed at demolishing and greening vacant, abandoned and blighted residential properties in Atlantic City, Camden, and Newark.
NJBRP will provide zero percent interest loans of up to $25,000 forgivable over a three-year period to eligible entities to accomplish this goal.
The funds are part of additional Troubled Asset Relief Funds obligated by the U.S. Treasury in February 2016 to the Hardest Hit Fund Program.
NJBRP comes on the heels of the Urban Blight Reduction Pilot Program, announced by Governor Chris Christie in May, targeting 400 to 500 vacant, abandoned and blighted properties in Trenton to stabilize neighborhoods, reduce crime and spur positive redevelopment of those sites.
“With these programs, we can step up our efforts to revitalize neighborhoods, opening opportunities for affordable housing and job creation,” said state Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Charles A. Richman, who also serves as chairman of the HMFA board. “Removing vacant and abandoned properties will help reduce the potential for crime in those areas, and allow much-needed reinvestment in communities.”
The board also approved funding to create 31 efficiency apartments in the existing Plainfield YMCA project located in Plainfield, Union County. The units will provide housing for young adults, between ages 18-24, who are aging out of foster care. The transition from foster care to the community can be stressful and challenging, and this project will provide stable housing for youth as they continue their journey forward. The financing includes $4.8 million from the agency’s Revenue Bond Financing Program and $3 million from the agency’s Sandy Special Needs Housing Fund. Additionally, the developer, Eastern Pacific Development, LLC, based in Vineland, is applying for 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which could generate as much as $3 million in private equity. If approved, construction is anticipated to begin in December with an anticipated completion date of May 2019.
The HMFA board also approved a commitment involving another major project that will continue the revitalization of downtown Newark. Following the successful transition of the landmark Hahne & Co. building into a residential, commercial and retail mix, the board approved $15 million in Conduit Bond financing for the 540 Broad Street project. Led by L&M Development Partners Inc., of Larchmont, N.Y., the team behind the Hahne & Co. building, 540 Broad Street will transform the landmark New Jersey Bell Telephone Company building into a mix of both market and affordable residential housing, commercial and retail space.
Federal 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits are expected to generate an additional $9.4 million in private equity.
“Like the Hahne & Co. building, 540 Broad Street will be another visionary project that re-adapts an existing landmark that continues to invigorate Newark,” said HMFA Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta. “This building will continue to be a key part of the city’s skyline as it provides housing and other investment in the area.”
The project includes the substantive renovation and adaptation of the 400,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1929 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The project will include 263 market and affordable residential units, approximately 60,000 square feet of office/nonresidential space and approximately 17,000 square feet of retail space. The building was home to Verizon’s regional offices until Dec. 31, and Verizon will occupy an estimated 25,000-gross-square-foot switching facility. Rehabilitation is anticipated to start in August and be completed by April 2019.
In other action, the board approved the funding and program guidelines for HMFA’s 2017 Choices in Home Ownership Incentives Created for Everyone (CHOICE) program.
CHOICE is the HMFA's comprehensive financing program for the development of new and substantially rehabilitated housing to expand homeownership in New Jersey. The program features below-market interest rate construction loans and construction subsidy funding for developers as well as favorable end loan financing for eligible homebuyers. CHOICE is intended to be a catalyst for the creation of viable homeownership markets in municipalities where home values currently do not support a sustainable new construction housing market. CHOICE is also intended to assist with the creation of resale-restricted affordable homeownership housing in municipalities that have included affordable housing in their redevelopment area plans.
The 2017 CHOICE program will receive in an infusion of $10 million to further the agency’s mission of creating affordable housing for New Jersey’s workforce families. The housing created through the CHOICE program helps to revitalize neighborhoods and stimulate additional economic investment.
For more information on HMFA programs, visit www.njhousing.gov