Egg Harbor Township hotel gets grant money to become affordable apartments
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - A plan to convert a languishing hotel, in a part of the township leaders want to redevelop, into affordable housing apartments has received millions in Sandy grant money.
Developers Renewable Jersey plan to turn the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center on the Black Horse Pike near the Pleasantville border into an 83-unit apartment building for low- to moderate-income residents.
The project, the name of which was not announced, will receive a $5 million grant and more than $16 million in tax credits over the next 10 years, Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable announced Thursday.
The township passed several resolutions in June supporting the project and allowing the developer to use existing approvals for the project. Apartments could become available as soon as late 2014. The hotel would remain open while the conversion takes place.
Extensive renovation of the property, plus the actual purchase of the land and building, will cost the developers more than $10 million, Rukenstein said. DCA awarded the project a $5 million grant under the Fund for Restoration of Multifamily Housing, which was allocated $180 million under the $1.8 billion Community Development Block Grant allotment approved in April. That money comes from the $60 billion Sandy disaster aid package approved by Congress in January.
The Egg Harbor Township hotel conversion project is one of 34 projects announced as part of the multi-family housing program. Other projects will be in Atlantic City, Pleasantville, Cape May Court House and the Rio Grande section of Middle Township. About 2,550 apartments in the nine counties most affected by Sandy will be created if all projects are constructed.
"As we all know, Sandy's wrath did not discriminate on socio-economic status," Constable said Thursday. "It impacted those who were elderly and those on a fixed income. It also created a serious rental shortage."
The hotel, which has been the site of numerous state and county political conventions over the years, has struggled financially, Egg Harbor Township Mayor James J. "Sonny" McCullough said. Several years ago, current owner Ira M. Trocki proposed turning the building into an assisted-living facility, but that project never materialized. McCullough said last year developers approached the township with the idea of converting the property into affordable housing, which would count toward the township's COAH requirement.
Renewable Jersey principal Ron Rukenstein said the housing will be open for anyone meeting the income restrictions. The rehabilitation will convert the hotel rooms into 83 one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments. "The amenities and features here, we think, will raise the level of what's usually associated with affordable housing," Rukenstein said.
Additionally, Rukenstein said, a goal will be to incorporate various social services into the building to help residents who many need help.
Rukenstein's project also received a 9 percent tax credit, which means the developers effectively will have their federal tax bill cut by more than $1.6 million per year for 10 years.
A survey released in March found low-income renters were disproportionately affected by the storm, especially in Atlantic City.
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