Two months after work began on the site, tangible evidence can be seen of construction on a 58-unit affordable housing development geared toward artists.
The four-story Rahway Residences for the Arts, geared toward those working arts and entertainment, will incorporate the site of the former Elizabethtown Gas Co. building site. The existing 6,500-square-foot gas building will be renovated and expanded while construction will occur behind it along Central Avenue, past Campbell Street.
The redevelopment agreement stipulated that construction begin within two months of the closing date and completion projected for 18 months. Closing on the property occurred in December and site work on the project started in mid-January, which would project completion at about June 2018.
The 58-unit development will be comprised of 24 one-bedrooms averaging about 675 square feet; 28 two-bedrooms about 914 square feet, and 6 three-bedrooms at an average 1,130 square feet. There will be 37 parking spaces provided on site and through an agreement with the Parking Authority, another 36 spaces secured at either nearby Hamilton Stage or YMCA.
Preliminary site plan approval was granted in May 2015, granting variances and a subdivision so the building would be on its own lot, with ownership retained by the Redevelopment Agency, and the rest of the property sold to the developer, Ingerman Group. Final site plan approval was granted in March 2016.
Construction of the project will be funded via $15 million in tax credit financing of $15 million from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), announced in November 2015. City Council approved a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) in February 2013. A concept plan for the project first was presented to the Redevelopment Agency in April 2012.
A survey in 2012 by the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) indicated a strong interest in an affordable housing development, with a demand for as many as 240 units. A quarter of respondents said they don’t require parking and more than half (54 percent) require one parking space; fewer than 2 in 5 require two spaces.
More than 80 percent of respondents currently are working in New York City, and more than half living in the city.
To qualify, residents would have to earn less than 60 percent of median household income for Union County. Union County median household income 2011-2015 was $69,594, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, putting 60 percent of that median at about $41,756.