Artist housing could return to Planning Board

A proposed affordable housing development geared toward artists could return to the Planning Board in the coming weeks.

In her report to commissioners at the Redevelopment Agency’s Jan. 6 meeting, Jacqueline Dirmann of Bohler Engineering said the developer of Rahway Residences for the Arts is aiming to submit final site plan approval at the February Planning Board meeting (Feb. 23).

Rahway-Residence-for-the-Arts-Central-Av-elevation-150x150The Planning Board in May approved a preliminary site plan along with several variances for the 58-unit proposal. Final site plan approval would include a full landscaping and lighting plan.

Executive Director Leonard Bier told commissioners that the agency hasn’t yet seen the final site plan proposed at the former Elizabethtown Gas. Co. site on Central Avenue. The agency usually memorializes and accepts final site plans before they’re submitted to the Planning Board, he added. The next scheduled meeting of the Redevelopment Agency is Feb. 3.

Elizabethtown Gas building.Dec2013The Rahway Residences for the Arts is planned within the former Elizabethtown Gas Co. building at Central Avenue and Hamilton Street, adding two stories to the existing two-story structure, and extending it along Central Avenue. There would be 24 one-bedrooms, 28 two-bedrooms and 6 three-bedrooms (10 percent are required to qualify for affordable housing tax credits).

The challenge to the project has been getting control of the property, Bier said, because the utility company keeps getting acquired, inhibiting transfer of the property. A $700,000 property is not a priority within a billion-dollar public company, he said. Atlanta-based AGL Resources is the parent company of Elizabethtown Gas. and is expected to complete a merger with Southern Company during the second half of this year.

The Redevelopment Agency plans to buy the 1-acre property for $731,000 and sell it to Collingswood-based Ingerman Development Corp. for $956,000.

Ingerman recently secured New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) tax credits for the project, among $32 million announced in November to create some 1,700 rental units statewide.

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