Federal and state programs to create affordable housing got a big push from Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed homes and displaced residents.

As a result, a wave of more than 300 rental units — the vast majority for low- to middle-income households — will be built in Atlantic County in the next few years.

Another piece of funding for the projects fell into place last month with more than $2 million in grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, and many more details became available on the previously announced projects for Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic City and Pleasantville.

All six projects are being built by partnerships between developers with experience in affordable housing and nonprofit organizations that will be involved in serving residents.

All are getting or seeking funding from several federal, state and local programs, including Community Development Block Grants, Affordable Housing Program grants, N.J. Housing and Finance Agency funds, federal tax credits and Sandy relief programs.

The Egg Harbor Township project is the only conversion among all in the state receiving Sandy-related funds. It will transform the former Clarion Hotel & Convention Center on the Black Horse Pike.

Egg Harbor Township

Rukenstein and Associates, of Pennington in Mercer County, is working toward starting the Clarion conversion in April and potentially finishing about a year later, said Ron Rukenstein, president.

“The roof was damaged by the hurricane, so we’ll fix that and work our way down from the top,” he said.

The project for 84 rental units in the six-story building was just granted $782,574 by the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York under its Affordable Housing Program.

Rukenstein estimated the units will rent for $690 a month for one bedroom, $822 for two bedrooms and $944 for three bedrooms.

The one-bedroom units will have a minimum of 700 square feet; two bedrooms, 850 square feet; and 1,150 square feet for three-bedroom units, he said.

The hotel building is substantial, made of precast concrete with firewalls between every three hotel rooms, he said. That’s an advantage but makes conversion more challenging.

There has been a high level of interest in the units, with many area residents contacting the company, he said.

“We’re not ready to start accepting applications. We’ll get the word out when we are ready,” Rukenstein said.

A second phase at the property will convert the separate former convention facilities into additional affordable housing and possibly build above it.

“We’re still working out all of the details on that and will come to the township with a site plan application,” he said.

The developer’s partner in the project, United Cerebral Palsy, helps with the funding process and “they’ll be involved putting together the social services plan for the residents,” he said. “We each stick to our areas of expertise.”

He said that besides the help of the company’s partner and many agencies, the project is fortunate to have the support of Egg Harbor Township and the existing property owner.

Atlantic City

The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York awarded a $1.3 million grant to RPM Development, of Montclair in Essex County, and the nonprofit Life Management Inc. to build 65 rental units for low- and very-low income families on Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City.

Brendan McBride, RPM vice president, said additional funding applications still need to be made before work starts, perhaps later this year. Once started, the project should take about 15 months.

Tennessee Green Apartments will meet the highest LEED standard for energy efficiency. The four-story building on vacant ground will have two elevators, a roof garden, community room, laundry and 45 parking spaces.

McBride said rents are expected to range from $521 to $646 for a one-bedroom unit; from $620 to $774 for two bedrooms; and from $723 to $900 for three bedrooms.

The one-bedroom units will have about 650 square feet; the two bedrooms, 850 square feet; and 1,100 square feet in the three-bedroom units.

There will be 13 one-bedroom units, 36 two-bedroom units and 17 three-bedroom units. A small portion of the units will be set aside for lower income families, he said.


Two RPM Development projects in Pleasantville have received funding and are underway, McBride said.

A mixed-income project on Milan Avenue downtown will have 67 rental apartments, with 24 percent of them available at market rates and 76 percent for renters whose income is no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

The four-story building will be LEED certified and will consist of 10 one-bedroom units, 54 two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units.

A mixed-use project fronting an entire block of Main Street downtown will have 20,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 68 rental apartments on four upper floors.

The flagship of a multiphase Pleasantville City Center redevelopment, the LEED-certified project will reserve 70 percent of its residential units for those making no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

There will be 12 one-bedroom units, 53 two-bedrooms and three three-bedrooms. Seven units will be reserved for those making no more than 20 percent of area median income.

Both apartment houses will have an onsite resident services coordinator to provide special needs tenants with “intensive case management services and encourage independent living and self-sufficiency,” the company said.

McBride said RPM and its partners also are seeking funding for Pleasantville Senior Residences, a LEED-certified, age-restricted building with 65 apartments — all restricted to those making no more than 60 percent of area median income.

There will be 57 one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units, with 65 parking spaces. A resident services coordinator there will participate in the Senior Independent Living program.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.