Work scheduled to begin this week on Egg Harbor City senior rentals


EGG HARBOR CITY — Site preparation will begin this week on the project to build 100 units of affordable senior housing on the former site of the Fanny D. Rittenberg Middle School, according to the developer.

Rental units in the four-story structure will be complete in about a year, predicted Senior Vice President Charles Lewis, a spokesman for Conifer Realty LLC, of Mount Laurel, Burlington County, and its Rittenberg Urban Renewal Associates.

He said the company went to settlement with the city and took ownership of the 2 acres on the 500 block of Philadelphia Avenue on Wednesday. The city sold the land to the developer for $1 plus promises that the developer will spend about $500,000 replacing curbing and sidewalks along the 500 block.

“The first thing people will see is a trailer and a fence go up,” Lewis said. “Then, we will start doing geotechnical work on the ground, like digging lines for utilities.”

The building will not have a basement but will be built on a concrete slab, he said. The site work, grading, footings and foundation will take 60 to 90 days, he predicted.

“By June, we should be going vertical,” Lewis said.

Framing out the building will take 60 days.

“The real big thing is to get the roof on and windows in before the cold starts,” he said. “Once we do that, we can still work inside.”

The city agreed to accept 10 percent of gross rental revenue as payment in lieu of taxes for 30 years. The builder has estimated the payments will start at about $61,000 annually and rise to $108,000 by the end of the 30 years.

City officials have said the project will bring new income to the city and more people into town to revitalize the community economically and socially.

The developer has 30 to 40 people on an “interest list,” he said. They are people who contacted Conifer or the city to inquire about applying. But Conifer hasn’t started taking applications, he said.

Ninety percent of the units would be for people making 50 percent to 60 percent of median income for the region, Lewis said. At 60 percent of median income, a single person would have an income of $28,800, and a couple an income of $32,880, he said.

Only 10 percent would be for those making 30 percent of median income. At 30 percent of median income, a single person would have an income of $14,400 and a couple $16,440, he said.

Conifer is building other affordable rental housing in the area.

A 112-unit project in Rio Grande, Middle Township, is to start construction in April or May, and a 48 unit-project in Cape May Court House is awaiting CAFRA permits and could start in July, Lewis said. The Rio Grande project will be built in two phases, with 80 units going up first and 32 later, he said.

The company expects to start the 90-unit final phase of the federal Hope VI project in Atlantic City in June, he said.

Conifer is in the planning stage to build 99 affordable housing units on 37 acres at New York Avenue and Harding Highway in Hamilton Township, across from The Village at Hardings Run.

Of the projects about to start construction, only the Egg Harbor City project is limited to people age 62 and older. All are funded by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and use Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.

The company built a 90-unit, $19 million affordable housing development for senior citizens in Lower Township, which opened in fall 2010.

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