Officials Break Ground on Affordable Housing Development in Orange Funded by Sandy Disaster Recovery Funds
Local, county, state and federal officials attended a groundbreaking on May 12 for the building of the Walter G. AlexanderVillage, Phase III housing complex, located on Parrow Street adjacent to the OakwoodAvenue Elementary School and its second building, located on Wilson Place.
The development is supported by a $7.4 million tax credit award from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) and $3.5 million from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Sandy Disaster Recovery funds.
The 54,300-square-foot project will comprise a 16-unit, three-story building on Parrow Street and 26-unit, four-story building on Wilson Place, as well as a shared 4,500-square-foot community room.
The new development is a much-heralded public-private partnership between the Alpert Group of Fort Lee, HACO, and the authority’s development arm, the Orange Housing Development Corporation (OHDC).
“Dr. Walter G. Alexander Village III is a continuation of our commitment to rehabilitate the East Ward,” said Dr. Walter D. McNeil, Jr., HACO executive director. “We’ve already built 48 affordable housing units for seniors and 66 affordable housing family developments in the area. We are here now, with hats and shovels, ready to build another 42 units for seniors and local families who want a safe and an attractive place to live.”
Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, who represents Orange, was amongst those who attended the event. “There are two things the residents of Orange prioritize: housing and employment,” she said. “Envisioning this transformation is like a dream come true.”
In the past, the city has experienced serious housing issues, with unsafe, dilapidated buildings as workforce housing. The housing authority is aggressively branching out from its daily management of public housing to tackle the issues affecting the overall quality of life for Orange residents.
Senator Nia Gill urged residents to rally behind such projects so the community can see positive change. “We are creating here an atmosphere where we can be safe; where we can raise our children; where we can further develop our commitment to this wonderful city,” she said. “Affordable housing means houses but it also means moving people forward.”
The housing authority and OHDC have studied 404 properties in the East Ward that are part of the Central Orange Redevelopment Plan. The study revealed that 33 percent of the properties were under-utilized, with most of the properties abandoned, vandalized or vacant.
In response, Orange housing officials have steadily acquired and demolished blighted properties and redeveloped scattered sites throughout the city’s East Ward.
The Dr. Walter G. Alexander Village was a public housing complex built in 1952. It has since been demolished, replaced with attractive, modern, low-rise construction. The “new” Dr. Walter G. Alexander development is the city’s largest expansion of workforce housing. Located betweenParrow Street and Wilson Place, the new construction has come to symbolize tremendous turnaround and investment in the city’s East Ward.
The project is slated for completion by early 2016.
News of Marisa Eve Girawong's April 26 death near "The Roof of the World" to East Orange General Hospital's emergency room and Rutgers University-Newark's classrooms came about as fast as the Nepalese earthquake-triggered avalanche that stuck her base camp and killed her.
Respective City of East Orange and Township of Maplewood clerks Cynthia Brown and Elizabeth Fritzen said that the 14 candidates between them have had their petitions filed on March 30 and have been certified.
BBBS mentees and seniors shared their love for the environment through a variety of activities. The two groups organized an "Earth Day Celebration" to plant and paint recyclable flower pots, in addition to learning how they can create sustainable initiatives for future generations.
"This is my first time I worked with the elderly at a senior housing complex," said BBBS mentee, Daja, 16 "It's been a rewarding experience to help those who have done so much for our community over the years."
"It's imperative for our mentees to work with people of all ages," said Michele Williers, Chief Operations Officer for BBBS. "It is opportunities such as these that help bridge the gap between young and old. It builds trust and understanding between two generations that do not often interact."
Earlier this year, OHA promised to expand its role to increase services to the community at-large. By doing so, the authority has partnered with a series of community organizations, such as County of Essex, BBBS and the Orange Public School District.
"Earth Day is one of many informative programs at OHA that we can use to not only appreciate a healthy community, but to remind us of the importance of preserving it for our future through positive actions," said OHA Executive Director Walter D. McNeil, Jr., PhD.
OHA is committed to improving the community by incorporating cultural and educational activities for the public. For example, the agency is hosting a golf tournament September 21 to enhance their ability to help youth within the OHA community.
For more information on upcoming events, please visit the Orange Housing Authority's website at www.haconj.org.
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