New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency

Groundbreaking Kicks off Construction of New Apartment Community in Newark

For Immediate Release:
November 7, 2019
Amy Palmer

Somerset Brownstones Continues Redevelopment of Former Public Housing Site, Will Provide Homes Affordable to Families

NEWARK – A groundbreaking today kicked off construction of a new community of 60 apartments affordable to families, the last phase of redevelopment of the former Douglass Harrison Homes site in the city’s Central Ward.

Somerset Brownstones, developed by The Michaels Organization and financed in part by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), will provide two- and three-bedroom apartments in four new buildings for low- and moderate-income residents with incomes up to 60% of the area median income

“Governor Murphy and I are dedicated to redefining New Jersey’s communities by increasing access to high-quality, affordable places for people with all income levels to live,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and NJHMFA board chair.  “Redevelopment projects like Somerset Brownstones helps low-income families achieve a better quality of life while transforming neighborhoods in New Jersey.”

Somerset Brownstones represents the final phase of redevelopment of the former Douglass-Harrison Homes site. The first phase, Harrison Park Square, opened in 2015 and provides 56 apartments for seniors. The complex also was developed by The Michaels Organization and financed in part by NJHMFA.

NJHMFA awarded very competitive 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits to the $19 million project, which generated $11.3 million in private equity. NJHMFA administers the federal LIHTC program in the state which are a primary impetus in the creation of affordable housing for working families, seniors and residents with special needs.

“We are pleased to again join with The Michaels Organization to provide much-needed affordable housing across New Jersey. This new development will complete the transformation of a large vacant site to a vibrant community in the heart of Newark,” said NJHMFA Executive Director Charles A. Richman. “Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which were awarded as part of the project financing, are a key tool to create housing that is affordable for teachers, office workers, emergency personnel and other working families to be able to live and work in the community and build a stronger New Jersey.”

Somerset Brownstones shares an eastern border with Douglas Park, a city-owned park built by Michaels, which will create an additional park as part of the Somerset Brownstones development on land adjacent to Harrison Park Square

Construction is expected to be complete by November 2020. Fifteen apartments will provide permanent housing for homeless residents, with priority given to homeless veterans. Better Tomorrows, a New Jersey nonprofit 501(c) organization, will coordinate supportive services for Somerset Brownstones’ residents, including after-school programs, financial literacy workshops, health fairs and screenings, among other programs and services.

In addition to this project, other area redevelopment financed in part by NJHMFA is creating additional new affordable homes for families or rehabilitating and preserving existing affordable housing. In May, a grand opening ceremony celebrated the opening of Boulevard West, a new mixed-use building providing 89 apartments affordable to working families along with retail space on a section of the vacant, former New Horizons public housing site and was co-developed by The Michaels Organization and the Newark Housing Authority. Nearby Spruce Spires, which provides 112 apartments spread across five buildings located on Spruce Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. is undergoing a significant rehabilitation led by owner Omni America, LLC. 

The Michaels Organization is a national leader in residential real estate offering full-service capabilities in development, property management, construction, and finance. Serving 145,000 residents in more than 400 communities nationwide, Michaels is committed to crafting housing solutions that jumpstart education, civic engagement, and neighborhood prosperity.

For more information on NJHMFA and its programs, visit