Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Michaels Organization Kicks Off Final Phase of Camden Redevelopment

The Michaels Organization has begun construction of 58 affordable apartments for seniors in Camden, New Jersey, marking the final stage of the redevelopment of a former public housing site in that city's Centerville neighborhood.

Michaels, which is itself based in Camden, has partnered with the city's housing authority on the nearly $16 million project. The senior housing marks phase four of The Branches at Centerville, which will complete the revitalization of the site of the former Clement T. Branch Village.

Michaels spearheaded the Branch Village redevelopment with financing or tax credit awards from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. The first phase opened in December 2017 with 50 affordable one- to two-bedroom rental apartments in a mid-rise building. The second phase created 72 affordable townhouses for families with incomes up to 60% of the area median income and includes five apartments for homeless individuals. Last October, Michaels held a groundbreaking for the third phase, 75 additional townhouses for families, with an expected completion date of this October.

The agency awarded the $15.9 million development 9% low-income housing tax credits, which are expected to generate $12.9 million in private equity. The low-income housing tax program is considered the single largest source of funding for affordable housing in the United States for families, seniors and residents with special needs, according to NJHMFA, which is New Jersey's sole administrator of the program.

Branch Village was built in 1941 and named for Dr. Clement T. Branch, who was a prominent doctor and the first African American to serve on the Camden school board. The development featured blocks of brick apartment buildings that over time became dilapidated and obsolete public housing.

The final phase of the redevelopment will include 58 one-bedroom apartments in a three-story building for residents age 55 and older, earning up to 60% percent of the area median income. Five apartments will be set aside for homeless individuals. Rents for the senior apartments will be about $825 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Clement T. Branch Village is the last public housing community to be redeveloped in the Mount Ephraim Avenue corridor. Eight two-story brick buildings were demolished, and three new public roads will be introduced to better integrate the community with the rest of the residential neighborhood.

Michaels has partnered with NJHMFA on a number of projects in Camden. In the past five years alone, the private developer has completed or plans to complete six developments financed in part by the agency, which have provided or will provide nearly 600 affordable housing units.

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