I have exciting news to report. The governor announced last Friday, the Low Income Tax Credit Awards for this year, and Project Freedom has won for both our new projects—West Windsor and Gibbsboro. Hooray.
This is by no means an easy task, and in the past, we have only been able to get one of our submitted projects the award, so to get both is quite a feat. So, before I go too far, I need to thank our Director of Development Tracee Battis and her assistant, Marion Doherty, along with CFO Steve Schaefer for all their hard work on making those applications a success. And a very big thank you to our Board of Trustees who has steadfastly supported our efforts to develop affordable housing in New Jersey under the leadership of Board Chair, Herb Schneider. It certainly was a team effort.
So, a little about where and what these two communities will be. Our setting in West Windsor is off of Old Bear Brook Road and it will be adjacent to the Enclave by Toll. Our project will mirror our buildings at Hopewell, two story, 12 unit buildings– all barrier free with an elevator in each. We will also have a large community center for tenant and civic activities. This site is about ½ mile from the train station which makes it ideal for someone who uses a wheelchair for mobility. The Enclave will contain long term suites, townhomes and apartments and some light retail commercial buildings. We hope to start construction in early 2018, with completion in Spring of 2019.
Our second project is located in Gibbsboro, Camden County, in South Jersey, off of route 561. Gibbsboro is a quaint little town set around Silver Lake which is a beautiful setting for our housing, and next door to Voorhees Township. It is known historically as the headquarters for the Sherwin Williams Paint company which moved out of the area years ago. Gibbsboro is in the process of developing the area around the lake, which will create housing and retail, consistent with the character of the town.
Both projects have been in the works for over ten years. I remember traveling to Gibbsboro in the late 1990’s working with the town fathers and their planner to identify a possible site. During those years, Gibbsboro had been in litigation with Brandywine Corporation, a large real estate developer, that was proposing high density housing for the lake area. Ultimately the Town won, and have worked to develop a plan that will continue to maintain the local town flavor and not compromise on traffic and safety. Our site will create 72 rental apartments, one, two and three bedroom units, on three floors within four buildings. We will be part of the town’s bike and walk path, throughout the town and should contribute at least 95 COAH credits for Gibbsboro’s affordable housing plan.
Our West Windsor site, will also have 72 units and look exactly like our Hopewell Freedom Village. We are excited with the fact that this location is so close to the train station, and will provide an increase in mobility to anyone who uses a wheelchair. Also, this location will lend itself to access to the city of Princeton and all that goes with it.
Lastly, I need to mention the tremendous help and cooperation we received from both towns toward making our project a success. Both towns provided tremendous help with our planning effort, the passing and approvals in a timely manner. West Windsor even provided the land along with some seed money which helped enormously in making our project work financially. So, our task now is to create housing that both towns can be proud to have in their communities that will include people from all walks of life. Our mission continues.