Dan Radel, Staff Writer
Asbury Park Press (APP) www.app.com
“LONG BRANCH — What was old is new again.
The city’s housing authority has completed a seven-year project of restoring and redeveloping a historic school to make affordable apartments for residents 62 years of age and older.
“When we first acquired this site we had two goals in mind, to construct at least 100 new units of safe, sanitary, affordable housing for the residents of Long Branch and to preserve the historic Gregory School,” said Tyrone Garrett, the executive director of the Long Branch Housing Authority.
The Gregory Elementary School was constructed in 1923. It was closed after the 2004-2005 school year when a new Gregory Elementary School was built down the street. The old school property was then acquired by the city. The city’s housing authority purchased the property in 2010 for $3 million.
The total project cost was $30 million and was funded by federal and state aid and private investors who were awarded tax credits through the state’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. A total of 117 affordable units for age-restricted living were created.
The first phase of the project included renovating the Gregory School building and construction of a new addition. It was completed in 2013, creating 65 affordable senior apartments at a cost of $16 million.
The second phase featured a new 52-unit affordable age-restricted apartment complex constructed on the old school property. The cost was $14 million. The second phase was partially funded by $3.9 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds.
Hurricane Sandy-impacted individuals who rented or owned a primary residence that was no longer habitable due to Sandy damage and registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance were given priority during the first 90 days of leasing.
One of the first occupants is 64-year old Cindy Harding, whose Rahway apartment was flooded in the storm by the Rahway River.
“I just moved in two weeks ago. The Rahway River flooded me out and I had been on a waiting list in three towns for so long,” said Harding, who said she discovered the Gregory Senior Residences when she came to spend a day on the beach.
The Long Branch Housing Authority, along with its partners, has constructed 528 new units of mixed income family and age-restricted housing over the past nine years, according to the authority.”