COMMUNITY INVESTMENT STRATEGIES COMPLETES FINAL PHASE OF WATERS EDGE CRESCENT IN ELIZABETH, N.J.
Staged Development of Elizabethport HOPE VI Revitalization Reflects Changing Economy
ELIZABETH, N.J., May 19, 2011 – When the economy first showed signs of its downhill spiral in 2008, Community Investment Strategies (CIS), Inc.demonstrated its agility. In the wake of the housing and foreclosure fallout, the integrated real estate company, based in Lawrenceville, N.J, transitioned the partially completed final phase of the Elizabethport Hope VI Revitalization Program in Elizabeth, N.J. from a for-sale town home community to an affordable rental community.
Hope VI is a federal revitalization grant program that assists public housing agency projects. Finished in January 2011, the fully occupied 71-unit Waters Edge Crescent of Elizabethport has become a thriving complex in the heart of the city’s most historic section.
“Elizabethport was especially hard hit by the collapse of the residential housing market,” said Christiana Foglio, founder/owner and chief executive officer of CIS. “As a result, it just didn’t make sense – logically or from a professional planning standpoint – to proceed with the originally planned 48 townhome units.”
Instead, CIS anticipated an increased need for tax-credit rental units as a result of the downturn, and re-worked the plans. “We designed apartment-rental townhomes with garages and waterfront views, which were virtually unheard of in the affordable housing industry,” she said.
Although CIS had completed site work, utility installations and the foundations for 12 units at the 2.38-acre former public housing site, the changes proposed were absolutely feasible according to Foglio. “The townhomes had been designed as attached two-family units with separate entrances and utility lines, which made it possible to transition to a rental project.”
CIS completed construction of one-, two- and three-bedroom units late last year, with most having a private, attached garage and balcony. The final phase also incorporated three stand-alone three-bedroom units.
“Leasing demand was so strong, the units were occupied two months earlier than projected,” said Theresa Reed, CIS vice president, who spearheaded CIS’ Elizabethport initiatives since HOPE VI was launched in 1997. “The result showed how our ‘re-purposing’ of this project was on-target as we achieved higher-than-expected demand for newly constructed, high-quality affordable rental housing.”
Elizabethport Revitalization Exceeds Expectations
Elizabethport’s HOPE VI Revitalization Program has revived the city’s oldest urban neighborhood by exceeding the expectations of government officials, members of the Elizabeth Housing Authority (HACE), community leaders and CIS. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the city a $28.9 million grant in 1997 for the HOPE VI initiative. Funding for Waters Edge Crescent was provided by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, HACE, The City of Elizabeth, and additional funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This was one of the most ambitious and creative revitalization programs to have received federal funding for the sole purpose of urban renewal,” said Foglio. “The completion of Waters Edge Crescent punctuated the dramatic transformation of this once-distressed waterfront into a thriving working-class neighborhood. HOPE VI also was the catalyst for rising property values in this and surrounding districts.”
Elizabethport, a former manufacturing and shipbuilding hub, was targeted by local officials for its historic significance and development potential. Demolition of 650 units at Migliore Manor and Pioneer Homes, two radically distressed courtyard-style public-housing complexes, paved the way for newly constructed, modern apartment-rental units for mixed-income young adults, families and seniors. CIS and its subsidiaries also developed, constructed and now manage HOPE VI’s Heritage Village at Elizabeth, an affordable senior residential community and Portside II, an affordable family residential community, both completed in 2006.
CIS specializes in multi-family housing, including 55+, senior housing and mixed-use redevelopments. The for-profit, certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) provides in-house development, construction and management services as an extension of its “people first” philosophy. CIS is committed to repositioning unproductive property and land parcels in order to revitalize communities for area residents, children, municipalities and local businesses.
Since its founding in 1994, CIS has developed a broad spectrum of multi-family properties, ranging from multiplex apartments and townhomes to mid- and hi-rise complexes, valued in excess of $350 million. The company’s diverse portfolio includes more than 2,000 apartment-rental units, with a high concentration in New Jersey.