The Michaels Organization, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden were among those on hand for a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the final phase of a redevelopment in the city. — Courtesy: HMFA
By Joshua Burd
The Michaels Organization has broken ground on 58 apartments in Camden, the final piece of a project to redevelop a former public housing complex in partnership with state officials.
The development, located in the city’s Centerville neighborhood, will be reserved for residents who are 55 or older and earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. Rents will begin at roughly $825 for a one-bedroom apartment, with five units set aside for homeless individuals.
Leaders of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, which is financing The Branches at Centerville project, were on hand this week to break ground on the $15.9 million development. Michaels is developing the site in partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Camden.
“The completion of this redevelopment and its replacement of obsolete public housing will be a major milestone for the residents and community, and will provide safe, modern, affordable homes for all the residents,” said Charles A. Richman, the HMFA’s executive director. “NJHMFA is proud to join this redevelopment through the award of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are an invaluable tool in creating affordable housing in New Jersey.”
Named for Dr. Clement T. Branch, a prominent doctor and the first African-American to serve on the Camden school board, the former Branch Village property was built in 1941 and featured blocks of brick apartment buildings that eventually became dilapidated and obsolete. It was the last public housing complex to be redeveloped in the neighborhood’s Mount Ephraim Avenue corridor, a main thoroughfare to the east of the development.
HMFA said it awarded the project federal 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are expected to generate $12.9 million in private equity. The agency has also supported the earlier phases of the redevelopment, the first of which opened in December 2017 with 50 affordable one- to two-bedroom rental apartments in a midrise building.
The second piece provided 72 affordable townhomes for families and homeless individuals, while Michaels broke ground in October 2019 on a 75-unit third phase that is due to open late this year.
Better Tomorrows, a nonprofit, will coordinate supportive services for the residents of the five set-aside apartments in the fourth phase, HFMA said. Their social services will be centered on four key areas of assistance to help the residents with education, financial stability, health and wellness and strong communities.