Schoolhouse Apartments in Atlantic City

The Schoolhouse Apartments at 61 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Atlantic City is one of three properties in the resort that may be purchased and renovated by a private company with the help of a Casino Reinvestment Development Authority loan.

ATLANTIC CITY — Three historic buildings, long ago turned into affordable housing units, will be bought and renovated by WinnCompanies of Boston, using $37 million in public and private funds, according to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

The buildings are the 66-unit Schoolhouse Apartments at 61 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., which was the Illinois Avenue School and the Boys Vocational School in the early 1900s; the 20-unit Disston Apartments at 1711 Arctic Ave., a YMCA widely used by the black community in the early 20th century; and the 67-unit Liberty Apartments at 1519 Baltic Ave., in the former Liberty Hotel.

No one from WinnCompanies could be reached for comment on the plans.

About $4.45 million would come from the CRDA as a loan, according to a resolution approved by the state agency last week.

“These properties have a historical place in African-American history in Atlantic City,” said CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty. “This (project) addresses concerns brought up in the Johnson report about neighborhood blight and public safety.”

The Johnson report focused on how to return Atlantic City to local control. It was submitted to Gov. Phil Murphy last September by special counsel Jim Johnson, and recommended the state continue oversight of the city through 2021. It also suggested ways to improve economic and social life in the city.

The buildings, which were converted to apartments 40 years ago, will remain affordable housing, but their conditions will greatly improve, Doherty said.

Winn would pay $17 million for the three properties, then spend $15.9 million on direct construction, $4.8 million on soft costs such as engineering and design, and a $3.6 million developer fee, according to CRDA Director of Planning and Development Lance Landgraf.

“These three properties have had so many violations of code and health, this would be a boon to the whole neighborhood and the surrounding area,” said Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, as he urged the CRDA to support the project. His ward encompasses the properties.

“It would be a tremendous development in the heart of the city and help families have a safe, clean, decent housing experience,” said Shabazz. “I understand Winn has done this work all over the country. People in Bridgeton are pleased with what they did there. People remain in the units while they develop them.”

Last year, WinnCompanies purchased and began renovating the Bridgeton Villas Apartments, with the promise of preserving them as affordable housing for the next three decades, said WinnDevelopment President Larry Curtis in a press release at the time.

It worked with Gateway Community Action Partnership, the City of Bridgeton, and the State of New Jersey on the $18.7 million project covering eight buildings and 156 units, the company said.

All three Atlantic City buildings are currently owned by a company called JJJ LLC, said Landgraf.

“Projects like this do not happen without subsidies. The profit margins are extremely small,” said Landgraf.

The state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency is a partner, and the project is getting property-tax credits for historic buildings.

“This gets to the heart of part of our mission in the city and Tourism District,” said Board Chairman Robert Mulcahy III. “It’s what we are supposed to do. Winn will manage the projects on a continuing basis after the units are improved. It adds to stability and to the continued upkeep and maintenance of the homes.”

Contact: 609-272-7219 Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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