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JERSEY CITY-A late-April groundbreaking has been set for the first project within the Monticello Avenue Redevelopment Plan Area. The 225,000-square-foot initial phase will include 120 rental apartments, 25,000 square feet of retail anchored by a supermarket and 170 indoor parking spaces.

Nine years ago, the city designated Whiton Street Associates LLC as the redevelopment entity for the 96-acre area. Whiton is a subsidiary of Main Street Development Co., which specializes in affordable housing and community revitalization projects.Michelangelo Russo, Whiton’s president and CEO, tells GlobeSt.com it took nine years to assemble the land and “work through various economic climates.”

All told, the project will be built in four stages over five years for a total cost of $350 million, Russo says. The $30-million first phase is expected to be complete by 2010. During the build-out period and after it is finished, the project is anticipated to create 500 jobs.

The five-story building will feature one and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 750 to 1,200 square feet, with rents from $600 to $1,700. Eighty percent of the units will be offered at below-market rents, with 20% set aside as affordable housing. The Monticello will be constructed of environmentally friendly materials to conform to LEED standards.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Monticello Avenue is a designated Main Street USA, the only Main Street program located in Hudson County.Whiton is working closely with the Monticello Community Development Corp. and other community groups, along with city, state, and federal officials to complete this project.

“We are excited about this project that will improve the economic vitality of Monticello Avenue and which will also provide much-needed affordable housing in our city,” says Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, in a statement. “During these difficult economic times, investments in our main streets are vital steps that will help us continue to attract development and continue to grow and flourish.”

Among the amenities Monticello will offer are a gym, center courtyard, rooftop garden, concierge and housekeeping service, high-speed Internet and a shuttle to and from surrounding commuter hubs. “MCDC is thrilled to see this project happen,” says Michele Massey, executive director of the Monticello Avenue Main Street Program, in a statement. “The number of jobs, temporary and permanent, affordable and market rate housing units and the supermarket will certainly enhance Monticello Avenue and benefit its community.”

Russo says that his firm has completed other mixed-use projects with market-rate and affordable housing in other parts of Jersey City as well as Paterson.

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