The redevelopment of vacant public housing is bringing new life to downtown Trenton, N.J.
Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties partnered with the Trenton Housing Authority to replace the former, 256-unit Carl Miller Homes, also referred to as “Killer Homes” because of its reputation for criminal activity, with a 204-unit, amenity-rich, mixed-income townhome community.
Rush Crossing, named after Joyce Rush, who had been a community leader and led the housing project’s drill team, was built in one phase and completed in three years, a tough feat for large revitalization efforts.
Timothy Henkel, senior vice president and partner at Pennrose, credits three major finance sources for funding the $57.8 million development in one phase: one of the last HOPE VI grant awards from the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s Multifamily Bond Conduit Program, to access tax-exempt bonds; and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit for projects within half a mile of a transit hub.
Other sources included low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity; HOME and Regional Contribution Agreement funds from the city of Trenton; funds from the Trenton Housing Authority; and an Affordable Housing Program grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.
“Most projects that are master-planned, large public housing replacements are done in phases painstakingly over four or five years,” says Henkel. “This capital stack enabled us to get it all done at once. I think it has made it an even more impactful project than it otherwise might have been.”
Rush Crossing, which was completed at the end of July 2014, provides 130 LIHTC units, 73 public housing units, and one unit for the maintenance superintendent.
The LEED Silver development boasts amenities such as a community center, a community garden, a dog walking area, a tot lot, and an audiovisual recording and editing room funded by the Trenton Housing Authority to help residents film and edit their own videos.