Survey: Very strong demand for artist housing

Developers of an affordable housing development for artists said there is very strong demand in Rahway, enough for 242 units, or 3 1/2 times more than the 69 units they’ve proposed in the Arts District.

Representatives from the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC), which has presented a concept plan for Rahway Residence for the Arts at the former Elizabethtown Gas building, presented findings of their survey tonight to the Redevelopment Agency tonight. AFHDC plans to post the full 58-page report on its website Thursday.

“There’s understandably strong demand for this housing in Rahway. We anticipated this kind of result, which is why we presented this project, and now we have the data behind it,” AFHDC President and CEO Scott Weiner said, adding that demand goes beyond affordable housing and even toward market-rate units.

Of the 1,072 individuals who responded to the survey, conducted last fall, 725 expressed interest in relocating to an affording housing development in Rahway, or about 68 percent. The 242 units are derived from AFHDC’s methodology based on a 3:1 ratio — for every three individuals expressing interest in housing, one individual typically will secure a unit. “The greater time between when survey responses were submitted and project completion date, the more this discrepancy is likely to increase,” according to the report.

Almost three-quarters of interested respondents (73 percent) did not know about Rahway’s “status as a developing center for the arts,” while more than 4 out of 5 (83 percent) said they never attended an event in Rahway. Weiner said this could be an opportunity to introduce a new residents and visitors to the city and its arts activities. Among those who didn’t know about Rahway, about 400 people have been added to the Arts District’s mailing list to stay informed, he said.

More than 82 percent of respondents currently are working in New York City, and more than half living in the city.

The number of bedrooms required by households trends toward one- and two-bedroom units (83 percent), according to the survey, with about 7 percent interested in a studio. Among interested respondents, 37 percent were a single person, almost half (49 percent) were a two-person household, and most (87 percent) without children.

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. Two out of five said they have interest in car sharing opportunities. Weiner said they’ve been in touch with Zipcar but were told to contact them as the project goes further.

Redevelopment Agency attorney Frank Regan said control of the property is a critical element but indicated that things have not moved forward as quickly as they would have liked after appraisals by the Redevelopment Agency and Elizabethtown’s parent company, AGL Resources.

The full report provides more details about diversity and demographics, rental rates and desired amenities, including studio, work and rehearsal space.

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