THERESA REED OF COMMUNITY INVESTMENT STRATEGIES, INC. SHARES LESSONS LEARNED IN DEVELOPING AFFORDABLE, SUPPORTIVE HOUSING
CSH-SHASupportive Housing Conference Brings Together Industry Experts
EDISON, N.J., Dec. 13, 2011 – The development of affordable and supportive housing can serve as an important catalyst for local redevelopment in New Jersey’s urban and suburban areas, according to panelists at the 13th Annual New Jersey Supportive Housing Conference. In addition to filling a distinct need, affordable and supportive housing also can contribute toward stabilized property values and commerce.
“Even though this might sound too good to be true, it’s not. It has been successfully done, many times over, and it works,” said Theresa Reed, vice president of Community Investment Strategies (CIS), Inc., a fully integrated real estate company with a portfolio of more than 2,000 multi-family units throughout New Jersey valued in excess of $350 million. She and fellow panelists recently addressed challenges and opportunities related to “Facilitating Neighborhood Revitalization through Affordable and Supportive Housing Development.”
Among the case studies presented by Reed were CIS redevelopments in Lawrenceville and Glassboro, N.J., distinct affordable apartment-rental communities.
In Central New Jersey, Heritage Village at Lawrence was the first affordable senior housing community introduced to address a surging demand among the area’s 55+ population. Once the township acquired a key piece of property, a distressed motel, automotive garage and home fronting an ailing portion of the Business Route 1 commercial/residential corridor, local officials partnered with CIS and The Eagle Group. “The township saw this as a unique opportunity to enhance the area’s mix of uses and worked diligently to ensure their vision became a reality,” said Reed.
The project employed a collaborative, hands-on approach between the developer; local, state and federal agencies; and area civic groups and organizations. “We decided from the start to create relationships with service providers like Greater Trenton Behavioral Healthcare, who already work with at-risk populations in the area and could refer clients to our community,” she explained.
The end result of CIS’ efforts was Heritage Village at Lawrence, a $17.5 million mixed-use redevelopment consisting of affordable senior housing with ground-floor retail. The project also includes five units dedicated to supportive housing. The success of Heritage Village at Lawrence can be measured by the earlier-than-anticipated full occupancy levels as well as the economic growth of the surrounding community.
CIS’ goal to go beyond bricks and mortar also contributed toward a sense of community pride in Glassboro, N.J., where the former Bentley Woods had fallen into a state of disrepair. “By 2007, the tenants, residents and township were frustrated and decided to do something to improve their community,” said Reed, who noted the town acquired the distressed property through eminent domain.
Today, the first two phases of the newly renamed Whitney Crescent, an 80-unit affordable apartment-rental community, have been completed and the final 40 units are expected to be completed by the end of January 2012. The affordable apartment-rental community includes five designated supportive housing units and complements a comprehensive revitalization initiative in downtown Glassboro.
“The units at Whitney Crescent incorporate amenities that are not typically associated with affordable multi-family housing developments,” said Reed. The energy-efficient apartments include hardwood floors, washers and dryers in each unit, and dishwashers. Residents also benefit from 24-hour emergency maintenance and on-site property management.
Since joining CIS, Reed has been involved in the acquisition, development and construction of more than 1,100 residential units. She has overseen and continues to be involved with CIS’ four multi-family housing developments that are part of the City of Elizabeth’s HOPE VI Revitalization Program.
Established in 1994 as a for-profit, certified woman-owned business enterprise (WBE), CIS specializes in developing a broad spectrum of multi-family properties, ranging from multiplex apartments and townhomes to mid- and hi-rise complexes. The company provides in-house finance, development, construction and management services to deliver the most appropriate low-to-moderate housing options.