Martin DeAngelis, Staff Writer
Press of Atlantic City .com
“ATLANTIC CITY — A year after four casinos closed due to widely publicized economic troubles, work crews are quietly building the city’s biggest housing development in several years.
Or maybe quiet isn’t quite the right word for all the work going on at The Meadows, a 90-unit complex of raised townhouses sprawling over several blocks. The new homes are bordered roughly by Virginia, Maryland, Mediterranean and Baltic avenues as they run into Absecon Boulevard, or Route 30, which winds its way through the western side of the city.
The affordable-housing, all-rental Meadows project will include 13 apartments with one bedroom, 52 with two bedrooms and 25 with three. Various sections are in states of completion, ranging from just the piling being sunk for some foundations to other townhouses having their exteriors finished and sealed.
But Pamela James, executive director of the Atlantic City Housing Authority, said no units are finished yet inside. The target date for finishing the project is March, but the Housing Authority’s Sabrena Brandon said this week that the actual time for tenants to move in “could be earlier or later,” depending on when the houses are finished and get all official city approvals.
The construction is worth $27 million. About $5.8 million of that comes from federal disaster-recovery funds responding to Hurricane Sandy and another $14.6 million is from the New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency. The Housing Authority is also contributing federal HOPE VI program funds that the authority administers.
The Meadows is a cooperative project by the Housing Authority and Conifer Realty, which have been compiling an “interest list” for people hoping to rent one of the new apartments. Hurricane Sandy victims who registered for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency were given first priority under the project’s rules.
Brandon, the Housing Authority’s urban-initiatives coordinator, said the “average rental for 28 of the 90 apartments will range from $524 to $695 a month.” Rents at the other 62 units will be “based on an eligible applicant’s income. Residents of those units will pay 30 percent of their income for rent,” she said, adding that all potential residents have to meet income criteria to qualify for an apartment.
The Housing Authority and Conifer advise anyone who’s interested to email their name and address to: email@example.com. A voice mail recording at Conifer’s offices says email is “the only way to be placed on the interest list.”
One interested observer of the job is the Rev. David McGettigan at St. Andrew by the Sea Church, right across the street from one of the latest sections to be started.
“We’re happy to see something other than empty lots over there,” said McGettigan, whose church moved to the neighborhood in 2007. “It’s been years that we’ve been waiting for this housing to come, so it will be nice to have some people across the street.”
St. Andrew is one of four churches to share its building, between Virginia and Maryland avenues on Baltic. McGettigan said the building also houses several service programs, including Atlantic City’s Sandy Long-Term Recovery Group, planned technology classes provided by Stockton University, scout troops and other neighborhood draws.
“We’ve got all kinds of stuff going on,” he said, ranging from opportunities for volunteers to a food pantry for people who need help themselves.
Elizabeth Terenik, Atlantic City’s planning director, agreed Friday that The Meadows is one of the biggest housing developments actually built in the the city in recent memory.
“There have been approvals for things like The Breakers,” off the Boardwalk in Lower Chelsea, she said. But the developers were cleared to create 168 townhouses there, and just two are built now. Chelsea View, a townhouse development on the bayfront in the same neighborhood, included 60 luxury units that first went for sale in 2006.
Terenik said the city government wasn’t involved in financing or planning The Meadows but definitely has an interest in the project.
“Our objective is to make sure Atlantic City residents get into those units,” she said. “And if Atlantic City residents are living in substandard housing now, those units need to be demolished.””