NEWTON, NJ – It was a festive atmosphere on Wednesday morning in the parking lot on the corner of Spring Street and Union Place. While it may be an unlikely place for a reception it will soon be the place many will call home.
Several local, state and building officials were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Newton Town Centre “a transformative mixed-use project” of 65 housing units. The public-private partnership will provide housing for low and moderate income people 55 + years-old.
The event began with an invocation by Fr ST Sutton of St Joseph’s Parish. He asked for blessings “for the grounds and those who will work on the project and those who will live in the facility.”
Edward Martoglio, President of RPM Development welcomed everyone to the ground breaking. He explained it is their “aspiration to create a home for 65 people and then to create a community within the building.”
Martoglio pointed to the unique characteristic of the project that brought “government at all levels together with a private company to do something.”
The project will be supported by a $2.2 million loan guarantees from the USDA as well as $15.6 million in Low Income Mortgage Tax Credits from New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, $45,000 in municipal funds, $50,000 from Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Wells Fargo Affordable Housing Community Development Corp.
Executive Director of HMFA Anthony Marchetta said their organization can be considered “the affordable housing bank,” saying this is their first new construction multi-family project.
The project began with the "vision of town leaders to transform an underutilized parking lot into be used in a better way,” Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo Jr said. “This project is a dream come true. This is the first major step in the vision of town council to revitalize Newton downtown.”
Russo said the project will have housing units, 1400 square foot retail space and a 2,200 square foot senior center to be used by all seniors in the town.
Deputy Mayor Wayne Levante said, “It is not often a municipality gets to transform a parking lot into a multimillion-dollar property.” Levante thanked the “vision of RPM” and looked forward to “the ribbon cutting of the finished project in a year."
Giving background about the HMFA low income housing federal tax credit program Marchetta said it began in 1986, fostered by then NJ Senator Bill Bradley. “It is the most effective way to encourage low income housing because it partners with private businesses.”
With a background as a planner and developer he congratulated those in attendance. “Revitalizing an underused parking lot- what a great idea,” noting seniors will be able to “walk to the pharmacy, the theater and other shops in downtown Newton.”
Marchetta added, “Congratulations to all for getting it done.”
Howard Henderson of the USDA said his agency handles a variety of issues. “My agency works to help rural communities thrive.” Also commenting on the cooperation among agencies Henderson said,”It’s not easy to make local, state and federal housing rules line up. Congratulations to all who worked on it.”
Henderson was joined by acting Housing Director Michael Mathews, Area Director Jan Rega and Senior Housing Specialist Donna O’Brien who, according to Henderson “made it all work.”
Representatives from RPM Management also in attendance were Director of Property Management Hector Torres, Director of Social Services Kim Copeland and Senior Property Manager Edward Merced. Project Manager Bob Haratiak said he expected to begin working on the Newton Town Centre by “mid November” after completing work on an adjacent parking lot.
According to RPM’s Regional Leasing Manger, Jennifer Grillo there will be “mostly one bedrooms from $839-$881 per month and a few two bedrooms for $992-$1034 per month. These are projected rents and could change.”
The apartments will be reserved for low and moderate income seniors with at least one member of the household required to be 55-years-old and everyone must be over 18-years-old according to Grillo.
Maximum income limits are structured according to household size and represent 60 percent of the area’s median income:
- 1 person - $37,680
- 2 people - $43,080
- 3 people - $48,480
- 4 people - $53,820
The apartments will include on-site parking and will be equipped with “stainless-steel appliances, high efficiency heating and cooling systems… a roof top terrace.” The building will also be “designed to achieve the highest possible LEED standards.”
Grillo said they are creating a VIP list of people who express interest in the property. They will be contacted when RPM begins to market the property.
“I am grateful to lead the community in pursuit of their lofty and attainable goals,” Russo said.