The 58-unit affordable housing development under construction behind the former Elizabethtown Gas building on Central Avenue is taking shape, recently topping out at four stories.
Construction on the complex targeting artists and those who work in the arts and entertainment field, began in January on the 1-acre property at 219 Central Ave. (Block 167, Lot 1), where Central meets Hamilton Street.
It’s been almost five years since the original concept plan was proposed. During most of that process the project went by the name Rahway Residence for the Arts but signage on the construction site indicates it will be known as The Willows At Rahway.
Here are five things to know about The Willows at Rahway, formerly Rahway Residence for the Arts:
- The facility will be comprised of 24 one-bedroom units, 28 two-bedrooms, and six three-bedrooms.
- Preference for units will be given to people who work in the field of arts and entertainment. Eligible residents would be required to submit a cover letter, resume, three references and a portfolio of work, in addition to credit and background checks. To qualify, residents would have to earn less than 60 percent of the median household income in Union County ($71,163 as of 2015, 70 percent of which is about $42,698).
There will be 37 on-site parking spaces, which is less than what’s required, however, another 36 spaces will be provided either at nearby Hamilton Stage for the Arts or YMCA as part of an agreement with the Parking Authority.
- Ingerman secured $15 million in tax credit financing from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA).
- The Redevelopment Agency purchased the 1-acre property for $731,000 and sold it to Ingerman for $956,000. The agency used $600,000 in HOME funds through Union County, with $131,000 as a loan from Ingerman. At closing, Ingerman paid the agency $356,000 cash, part of which paid pay off the $131,000 loan, while the redeveloper assumed the $600,000 mortgage, and the $225,000 retained by the agency as a local match. Ingerman will receive a subordinated mortgage, expected to be paid off over 30 years.
Here’s a look at the timeline of the project from concept to construction:
- April 2012: Concept plan for 60 units presented to Redevelopment Agency.
- January 2013: A survey commissioned by the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) indicated strong demand for artist housing.
- February 2013: City Council approves a PILOT agreement, which is later revised in August 2015.
- March 2014: Redevelopment Agency approves a redevelopment agreement with Collingswood-based Ingerman.
- May 2015: Planning Board grants preliminary site plan approval.
- March 2016: Planning Board grants final site plan approval.
- December 2016: Ingerman purchases the property.
- January 2017: Construction begins.