NEWARK, NJ - Ramon DeJesus was a little taken aback to hear there were 774 applicants for 24 affordable housing units in a new luxury apartment complex scheduled to open this fall in Newark.

“I mean, you never know,” he said while standing on a line at city hall yesterday to find out where he placed on the waiting list.

The coveted spots are in a new, luxury high-rise called One Theater Square that sits across from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. 

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People were not selected for the apartments yesterday. A random prioritization was conducted with an online tool that took each application and ordered them into chronological order. Applications will be viewed in that order for a final selection. 

The affordable housing is for studio or one-bedroom apartments. DeJesus, a lifelong Newark resident, said he’s currently living near West Kinney Street, and wanted to make the move to One Theater Square for the amenities.

“Who wouldn’t? The view, the area, luxury,” he said.

The units will feature modern chef's kitchens, hardwood floors, and windows with views of the city's downtown. The building will have 24/7 concierge, a fitness center and a three-story parking garage with 285 spots. A neighborhood police substation and retail space is slated for the ground level too.

Fabrice Guillaume, of Dranoff Properties, is the building’s property manager. He grew up in the city's Ivy Hill section and noted the progress that's been done in the Downtown area. 

"Over the past few years I've got to really see the transformation that's happened in the city,” Guillaume said, “and it's definitely a transformation for the best and the progress that's happening in the city is absolutely very exciting.”

Newark residents will get first priority for the spots, and Piazza & Associates is helping the city with the lottery's process. About 355 city residents applied, and 257 of them pre-qualified, Piazza & Associates’ president said.

"It's probably the nicest property that we've ever had affordable units," said the agency’s president, Frank Piazza, before wishing everyone in the room good luck. 

Just because a person received the No. 1 slot on the waiting list yesterday doesn’t mean they will be guaranteed one of the affordable units. Some applicants may find other housing in the meantime, or they may not qualify in the final application process.

People can still apply for the affordable units online. A subsidized studio apartment will go for $720 a month and the one-bedrooms will cost $771 a month, Newark Economic and Housing Development Director Carmelo Garcia said.

“It’s the first ground-up luxury to be built here in the City of Newark in over 50 years,” Garcia said. “It’s a great example as to how a public-private partnership works between the city government and redevelopers who make the investment, take the risk, who want to build luxury and affordable housing in their project.”

The city and Piazza & Associates did media and outreach and worked with the Newark Housing Authority to spread the word about the lottery, Garcia said.

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