Construction has begun on a complex in Somerset that will add 64 new apartments for seniors to the area.
On Wednesday, officials from Genesis Companies and Central Jersey Community Development Corporation (CJCDC) broke ground on "Independence Crossing" on Franklin Boulevard, a 55-and-older housing complex.
CJCDC is a nonprofit community revitalization and certified housing agency that is affiliated with the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens. It is headed by the church's senior pastor, the Rev. Deforest B. Soaries.
Of the 64 senior residence units, five supportive housing units will be specially reserved for special needs residents, with preference given to homeless or disabled veterans, according to a press release from officials.
"There was a need for...senior housing in the area and the Congregation of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens has a significant senior housing (population)," said project developer Karim Hutson of Genesis Companies.
Soaries said that the most recent senior housing community in the area had a long waiting list to get into, which further stressed the need for more affordable senior housing.
50 percent of the tenants of the new complex must be within the low-income classifications for the county, he said.
The property on which the structure is being built is owned by the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens. Soaries said it was previously intended for use as a charter school, and was discussed as a location for a Raritan Valley Community College campus, a project that fell through.
It will be managed by the joint partnership of Genesis Companies and the CJCDC, Soaries said.
Hutson said that a "big win" for the project was the addition of more than 11,000 sq. feet of commercial space, which is to be used by the Somerset County Department of Social Services as an on-site office.
The church currently rents space to the county for use as a social services office at another location, and the new space will be an upgrade, Soaries said.
The project is also meant to freshen up Franklin Boulevard through the use of updated, community-oriented construction, Hutson said.
Tax credits from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and funding from the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, PNC Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank are all going into the project.
The building will also be Energy Star compliant, with conditions put in place to make its energy systems more efficient and environmentally sound, Hutson said.
It is anticipated to be completed by Nov. 2013.
The CJCDC will begin screening potential tenants for the building in about two weeks, Soaries said. Anyone interested in obtaining more information is asked to call the church at (732) 828-2009.