Public officials joined The Michaels Organization recently to break ground on 75 apartments under what’s known as Branch Village Townhomes II, the third phase of a plan to redevelop a former public housing complex in Camden. — Courtesy: New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
By Joshua Burd
A partnership has kicked off the next phase of a plan to redevelop a former public housing complex in Camden, breaking ground on 75 apartments in the city’s Centerville neighborhood.
The development team, which includes The Michaels Organization and Camden’s housing authority, gathered earlier this week to mark the start of what’s known as Branch Village Townhomes II. Slated for completion in December 2020, the $20.5 million development will have 11 buildings with units reserved for residents earning up to 80 percent of the area median income, with five apartments set aside for homeless individuals.
The project marks the third leg of a plan to redevelop the former site of the Clement T. Branch Village, one of the last traditional public housing complexes in the neighborhood. Michaels and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden joined officials from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and others to hail the progress at the site.
“This new development continues the revitalization of this site, bringing new life to the neighborhood and providing safe, affordable homes for families,” said Charles A. Richman, the HMFA’s executive director. “This area is one that is in need of redevelopment but one that is changing quickly. We are proud to be part of these efforts through the award of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which have been a vital tool in the creation of affordable housing in New Jersey.”
The joint venture has made way for the redevelopment by razing eight two-story brick buildings from the former Clement T. Branch Village. The first phase of the project, financed in part by the HMFA, opened in December 2017 with 50 affordable apartments in a midrise building, while the developers broke ground last November on a 72-unit second phase.
Plans are underway for a final phase that will provide 58 affordable apartments for seniors, according to a news release. The project also calls for three new public roads that will better integrate the property with the rest of the neighborhood.
HMFA is supporting the third phase with 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are expected to generate $15.9 million in private equity, the news release said. Meantime, the housing authority has worked to relocate all of the residents from the former complex who can opt to return to the new townhomes once completed.
Rents at the third phase are expected to range from $824 for a one-bedroom apartment to $994 for a two-bedroom and $1,234 for a three-bedroom unit, HMFA said. Each apartment will include a washer and dryer, while the existing community building will be expanded to include a full-service kitchen and dining area.
Better Tomorrows, a nonprofit organization, will coordinate supportive services for the residents of the five set-aside apartments.