2005-07-14 / Front Page

New independent living facility gets final ‘OK’

BY LAUREN MATTHEW Staff Writer

BY LAUREN MATTHEW
Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — After years of planning, the Chuck Costello Independent Living Center is about to become a reality.

The facility, which received final approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment last Thursday, will be built on Route 18, near Ferry Road and adjacent to both Raritan Bay Medical Center and the recently completed Maher Manor.

The Costello center will provide housing for the independently disabled. That means, according to former Housing Authority Chairwoman Mary Ann Gurliaccio, that no nurses are needed or will be on the premises. The goal is to offer clean, affordable housing for people who can function well on their own, but need some form of outside supervision, said Gurliaccio, who resigned her volunteer position because she moved out of state.

According to representatives of Pennrose Properties Inc., which will build the facility on behalf of the Housing Authority, potential tenants could include blind or deaf people, or those with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy or traumatic brain injury, along with family members.

“It’s our gift, the Housing Authority’s gift to the township,” Gurliaccio told the Suburban in March.

The building is reported to be the first of its kind in Middlesex County.

Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties, which designed the building and submitted the application, also worked with the Housing Authority on Maher Manor, a 100-unit housing facility for senior citizens that opened earlier this year.

The Costello center will be a four-story residential building with 62 units. It will be built on a 15-acre tract owned by the Housing Authority.

One- and two-bedroom units will be available, each including a living room, kitchen and bathroom. Two elevator banks, laundry facilities, a community room and management offices will also be incorporated into the building.

The plan calls for 67 parking spaces, including many handicap spots.

Variances had been required for the floor area, number of parking spots and for the building of a residential facility in an office-general zone. Easements also had to be acquired, including one from the nearby hospital for emergency vehicle access.

Housing Authority members fought the clock to receive a 9 percent tax credit for the complex. The deadline, applied by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), required that a site plan be complete before a new time cycle could knock the tax credit down to 4 percent, according to Gurliaccio.

That would have required additional Housing Authority money, and the project would have had to wait a full year.

Because of that tax credit, amounting to $801,296 to be used toward the financing of construction, residents in the Chuck Costello Independent Living Center will have stabilized rents, starting at around $640 per month, Gurliaccio has said.

According to newly-elected Housing Authority Chairman Reginald Butler, also a township councilman in Old Bridge, some paperwork is still pending. But Pennrose will begin laying everything out later in the week.

Butler thanked members of the community for their continued support.

“I think it went really well,” he said of the zoning hearing. “I’m happy it proceeded the way it did.”

The complex is named for Old Bridge resident Chuck Costello, one of 12 Old Bridge residents who perished in the 9/11 attacks.

A total of $1.5 million in Home Express Funds from the state Department of Community Affairs was awarded to Old Bridge and Pennrose Properties for the Costello center. The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders has also pledged $1.5 million for the construction.

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