Village expedites low-income housing venture

Photo by Amanda Valentovic
The South Orange Board of Trustees discussed building low-income housing at 45 West Third St. at its last meeting.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — A $1.5 million bond ordinance for the purchase of 45 W. Third St. passed unanimously at the South Orange Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 24, allowing the village to move forward with building low-income housing units on the property. The building is next door to 41 W. Third St., which is already owned by the town.

The ordinance will be heard on second reading at the March 9 BOT meeting, along with a corresponding resolution that will direct the South Orange Planning Board to prepare a redevelopment plan for the property. According to Village President Sheena Collum, the town is expediting the redevelopment process so it is able to apply for tax credits by July 22.

“We are hoping to apply for low-income housing tax credits through the New Jersey Housing Mortgage Finance Agency by a deadline of July 22,” she said at the meeting. “Those low-income housing tax credits would fund close to 70 percent of the total project cost, along with the land that the village is contributing.”

South Orange has a partnership with the JESPY House, a local nonprofit organization that helps adults with learning and developmental disabilities live independently, and Bergen County United Way, a nonprofit developer.

“We are very much expediting a process that typically we spend a lot of time discussing with folks,” Collum said. “So you can expect that, given the potential upsides of receiving these tax credits, the board has made a priority and agreed to move this through the process as quickly as possible, obviously applying a lot of delicate care from the planning side, from the zoning side, and also working with the Planning Board on this.”

The building will potentially be four or more stories with 83 units. According to Collum, that number is higher than what would normally be built in the area. Specifics about what the village will allow to be built will be included in the redevelopment plan.

“The density is going to be high for the district,” she said. “It will be close to 83 units per acre in a district that typically sees 40-plus. Remember, we are trying to maximize the housing units that we are providing for our community.”