Artist housing to come before Planning Board

Rahway Residence for the Arts.Central Av elevation
(Click to enlarge)

An application for a 58-unit affordable housing complex geared toward people who work in the arts and entertainment field is scheduled to come before the Planning Board on Tuesday.

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.

ETown Gas site.Central AvenueWhen the concept first was proposed to the Redevelopment Agency three years ago, the plan presented 60 units on the former Elizabethtown Gas. Co. property along Central Avenue (Block 167, Lot 1). The plan eventually grew to 71 units before being revised to 58 units.

At least 10 percent of the units at Rahway Residence for the Arts will be three-bedrooms to qualify for state tax credits through the New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA). The project will seek some $15 million in tax credits with the next funding round coming this summer.

Rahway Residence for the Arts renderingAcquisition of the 1-acre property by the Redevelopment Agency has taken some time due to environmental remediation and related paperwork. With a July deadline looming to apply for state tax credits, site control was an issue in recent months. Redevelopment Agency attorney Jeanne McManus told commissioners at their May 6 meeting that a recent email from AGL Resources, Elizabethtown’s parent company, indicated the firm would receive a Response Action Outcome (RAO) letter by August, which should suffice for the redeveloper, Cherry Hill-based Ingerman Development Corp., to have sufficient site control to apply for tax credits by July.

d3ce5-img_4864The 6,500-square-foot Elizabethtown Gas Co. building itself at 219 Central Ave. would become the headquarters of the expanded the Special Improvement District (SID) and Rahway Arts District (RAD) with additional space for the Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC) and/or a satellite Union County College office.

The Redevelopment Agency recently amended the redevelopment agreement for the project, changing the effective date from Sept. 30, 2014 to April 1, 2015, and approving construction of three-bedroom units for the plan.

The agency will buy the 1-acre property for $731,000  from AGL Resources and sell it to Ingerman for $956,000. More details on the acquisition can be found in this earlier post about the redevelopment agreement.

“Artist” doesn’t always have to mean actors, singers and dancers. For an example of those working in the arts industry in other capacities, here’s a recent profile about a Rahway-based company that creates props for movies and Broadway shows.

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