$15M Improvements To Help More Than 500 Newark Residents

A construction worker breaks down an old boiler that will be replaced at New Community Manor Senior. The multi-site project first began at Manor Senior, located at 545 Orange St. in Newark.

New Community Corporation has commenced a construction project of historic proportions for the agency that will result in significant home improvements for more than 500 low-income residents in Newark.

Cranes and construction workers have already convened at New Community Manor Senior, the first site to undergo rehabilitation, but before a single roof tile was replaced at 545 Orange St. in Newark, NCC leaders navigated an arduous three-year process to secure funding for the visionary, multi-million dollar project.

The $15.48 million project will provide a major facelift to housing units, known as the Manor properties, at five scattered sites in Newark that total 327 units of affordable housing. In addition to Manor
Senior, the project includes the Manor Family units—low-rise townhouses and mid-rise apartments—all built in the early 1980s in the city’s Central and West wards.

The goal to provide safe, attractive and affordable housing kindled the beginnings of New Community in the late 1960s and continues today to drive NCC’s core mission to help residents of inner cities improve the quality of their lives to reflect individual God-given dignity and personal achievement.

“This project represents New Community’s largest scale housing rehabilitation ever. Thanks to our many dedicated partners in this effort, overhauling New Community’s Manor properties will provide home enhancements for the most vulnerable residents of Newark,” Richard Rohrman, CEO of New Community, said.

Throughout the process, Rohrman worked closely with Director of Real Estate Douglas Angoff, Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Mbakaya, NCC’s outside counsel and its board of directors, to vet and navigate an intricately structured deal.

Closing on the $15 million project was no small task and the work stretched far beyond the NCC network. Numerous other parties—ranging from state agencies to private banks and law firms located outside New Jersey—were heavily involved in the process.

Driving the deal were the following stakeholders: New Community, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), Goldman Sachs and Prudential.

“It was a good example of incredible teamwork,” Angoff said. By mid-July, NCC and the other stakeholders officially closed on the deal. Construction on the first phase of the project, Manor Senior, began August 10.

The construction on the senior complex, which includes building-wide improvements such as replacing roofing, heating systems and boilers, as well as renovating each unit’s kitchen, flooring, closets and installing new windows, will be finished by the end of 2015. The entire project will span 18 months.

“The senior building is (on) a very aggressive schedule,” Wayne Gravesande, director of Environmental Services, said. NCC’s Chelsea Construction Management will be providing project management services for Claremont Construction, the project general contractor.

Cynthia Sears is eager for a home makeover. The windows at Manor Senior, especially, need replacing because many of the residents, especially those with arthritis, find them difficult to open and close, she said.

“We really need something done to the Manor complex. That facelift is going to make it very beautiful,” said Sears, who has lived there for 17 years.

Of the kitchen renovation, Sears added, “I could use a new refrigerator, stove, cabinets.”

It was back in 1982 that New Community acquired the land now called the Manor properties. When Manor Family and Manor Senior were built by NCC in 1983, they received a tax abatement from the city. However that tax abatement had since expired and receiving approval for another tax abatement for the properties proved to be a crucial milestone in the process. The tax abatement was fully executed and signed by Mayor Ras Baraka in May.

“New Community worked hand in hand with the city for two years, over several administrations, to secure the tax abatement,” Angoff said, additionally noting the cooperation and support of the Baraka administration.

The construction will be financed with tax exempt bonds from NJHMFA and a permanent loan from Prudential Financial with a Freddie Mac guarantee. Additionally, the rehab project will also receive 4 percent tax credits, which Goldman will purchase, making the project a private-public partnership.

Due to the sheer number of people involved, the group regularly met via teleconference, with up to 25 people on the calls, Angoff said. In total, about 35 people from various firms and agencies were involved in closing the deal.

“It’s a big undertaking but it will be a tremendous improvement to the property,” Rohrman said during a meeting in August.

Most of the renovations will take place with residents in their apartments however some residents may be temporarily relocated, according to Gravesande.

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