2009-10-22 / Front Page

Work begins on 40-unit senior housing project

Project is joint venture of South Amboy Renaissance Corp., PHS Senior Living
BY JACQUELINE DURETT Correspondent

SOUTH AMBOY — The city is one step closer to having a new affordable housing residence for senior citizens.

A groundbreaking on the Robert Noble Manor on Gordon Street was held Oct. 1. The building, which will be the third senior residence in the city, will have 40 units, and is designed for seniors who are classified as low and moderate income, said Gary Hirsch, executive director of the nonprofit South Amboy Renaissance Corp., which works to provide affordable housing.

Hirsch said about 50 to 60 people attended the groundbreaking, including three Middlesex County freeholders.

"There is a need for many South Amboy seniors who are looking for this type of housing," Hirsch said, adding that the South Amboy Renaissance Corp. is working with Princeton-based PHS Senior Living on the project. "Right now there are not too many opportunities to get decent quality housing like this."

"They came on board within the last year," Hirsch said of PHS. "They are really overseeing the construction of it."

PHS, he said, has a great reputation with retirement housing. "It seemed to be a good fit," he said.

Larry Gumina, senior vice president at PHS, said the units are designed to be affordable to those on limited incomes.

"These are below-market-rate rents for low- to moderate-income seniors," he said, adding that the monthly rent is slated to be $773. He said he believed the current market rate to be in the $900-$1,000 range.

Residents of Robert Noble Manor must be 62 or older, both Hirsch and Gumina said.

The units in the three-story building will be a little more than 600 square feet, Gumina said, and will have a bedroom, living room and kitchen.

"They're not big units," Hirsch said.

According to published reports, the 35,000-square-foot building will have a laundry room and a courtyard, and shuttle service will be available.

Common areas have been built into the design as well, Gumina said.

The building is named for a former executive director of the South Amboy Housing Authority. Hirsch said the late Robert Noble was related to current Councilman Mark Noble, who is on the six-person board of the South Amboy Renaissance Corp.

Funding for the $9.6 million project, Hirsch said, is coming from the federal, state and county governments, and the operation will have private tax credits.

Gumina, who said the city has been working to make this project a reality for the last three years, said South Amboy Renaissance approached his company about a year ago to collaborate on the project.

"We'll come in, we'll build a community and then we'll manage it," Gumina said, noting that PHS's operational model does vary by project. PHS operates affordable housing senior residences and assisted living residences throughout the state. Its affordable housing communities include Allaire Crossing in Wall, Asbury Tower in Asbury Park, Portland Pointe in Atlantic Highlands, and Watchung Terrace in Middlesex.

Gumina said his company has received a great deal of cooperation both from the city and the South Amboy Housing Authority on the project.

"It's a pleasure to move forward and start construction," Gumina said.

Hirsch said this project is the only one currently on the radar for the South Amboy Renaissance Corp.

Weather dependent, he hopes the Robert Noble Manor will be available for occupancy early next summer. Prospective tenants, who need not be from South Amboy, should look for advertisements in advance of the building's opening, Hirsch said.

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