CHERRY HILL, NJ—Multifamily developer Pennrose Properties and the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey kicked off construction of a novel combination community for seniors and developmentally disabled adults to be called The Commons at Springdale in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Located at 1721 Springdale Road, the project will include 160 new units of high-quality, affordable rental housing for older adults and adults with special needs.
Construction will begin with an initial 80 rental units. Twenty percent of the total units will be designed to support individuals with special needs by creating four smaller “cottages” out of four 1-bedroom units. The cottages will contain a shared common space where individuals can receive access to services and community programming in a safe setting. All units will be set at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), with at least 40 percent set at or below 50 percent of AMI and at least 10 percent set at or below 30 percent of AMI.
Phase one of the project is anticipated to open in the summer of 2019.
Watch a video news report about the project in the player below.
The creative use of tax-credit financing plays an important role in making the dual-purpose communities work, according to Jacob Fisher, regional vice president with Pennrose Properties.
“It can take anywhere from 2-1/2 years and up to get a project started,” he says. “The key to this is putting together all the financing pieces and the Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which is a competitive resource allocated by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Pennrose is committed to improving communities and transforming lives with high-quality, affordable housing.”
The Commons at Springdale Road will offer supportive services to residents and programming options available to residents, such as health and wellness, recreational, and arts and culture programs.
“What we didn’t have was housing for special needs adults over 21,” says Brad Molotsky, a partner with the Duane Morris law firm and former executive vice president and general counsel of Brandywine Realty Trust. Molotsky, a Federation vice president, is the father of an adult special needs son. “Once you’re out of the school system when your kid is 21, that whole support structure is gone. If they can’t work, what are they doing other than sitting around watching TV and eating pizza? And so how do you structure a day, and a week, and then a month, and a life for somebody?”
The project required close cooperation between the nonprofit Federation, developer Pennrose, and county and local government.
“This has been something that we’ve been working on for a number of years, looking to provide housing for those with special needs and seniors in one development,” says Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn. “When you have supportive services like Jewish Federation provides, you can live together, and those that have special needs can live independently, with dignity, as people age in place.”
“The Jewish Federation believes in affordable housing for all and are committed to the independence and support of individuals in need,” says Jennifer Dubrow Weiss, chief executive officer at the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. “We are so excited to offer this type of living for older adults and adults with special needs – it’s the first of its kind in our area – and will promote the relationships and strengths that each bring to our community. The Jewish Federation is so very appreciative of the support of Cherry Hill Township, Camden County, and the overwhelming positive response from our community.”
Financing for the Springdale Road development came from a variety of sources, including $2.407 million in conventional financing, $1 million in Township Affordable Housing Trust Funds, $500,000 in Camden County HOME funds, $1.58 million in Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program funds, $1.25 million from the Jewish Federation, and $12.6 million in equity from the sale of 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
The project sends an important message to the community about policy choices in terms of housing and care projects for seniors and developmentally disabled adults, says Rabbi Lawrence Sernovitz, whose nine-year old son is one of less than 640 people worldwide diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, familial dysautonomia.
“It’s about making sure that what we do, and the way that we respond is not just local and statewide, but federal policies that are reflective of the diversity of needs in our community,” Sernovitz says. “Let’s make sure that the policies are reflective of the needs and the diversity in our communities.”