“This project is a wonderful example of the good that can come out of public-private partnerships. There was a possibility that Asbury Tower would be sold and converted into market-rate condominiums, which would have displaced the senior citizens living there. Instead, the DCA and HMFA worked with the developer on funding assistance,” said Acting Commissioner Richman. “As a result, much needed affordable housing was preserved and the senior tenants now have an improved quality of life.”
Asbury Tower is a 350-unit apartment building located between Deal Lake and the Atlantic Ocean. The property includes 100 efficiency units and 250 one-bedroom apartments. Originally built in 1973, the exterior of the brick building had fallen into serious disrepair due to its close proximity to the ocean. There had been numerous repair efforts made over the years, but the building needed a completely new exterior because of the movement of the brick, which resulted in “bowing” window frames and damage to air conditioner sleeves. The building was also overdue for general maintenance upgrades such as the installation of energy efficient HVAC units to help reduce operating expenses.
Because of the prospect of an expensive renovation, project developer PHS Senior Living Inc. explored the possibility of selling the project to a corporation that would have renovated and sold the units as market-rate condominiums. PHS ultimately decided to refinance the mortgage through the HMFA, with funding assistance from the DCA and the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program, which is administered by the HMFA. The property was able to remain affordable because of this refinancing.
The Asbury Tower rehabilitation included:
- a new facade, new roof, new central heat and air conditioning
and new windows;
- new kitchens with oak cabinets and new appliances;
- new bathrooms with walk-in showers, grab bars for the disabled, shower seats, oak vanity and flooring;
- completely repainted apartments fitted with sprinkler systems throughout; and
- renovations to the first floor, which is home to administrative offices, social services, a community dining room, billiards room, library and TV room.
“The renovations began with all the tenants still in the building and as the work progressed, residents were temporarily moved to other living arrangements. The PHS staff found creative ways to keep up morale and made sure the tenants knew what to expect,” said HMFA Executive Director Della Vecchia. “Many PHS employees gave up vacation time in order to accommodate the renovation.”
The HMFA approved a $30.86 million mortgage for the project and allocated $2.12 million in LIHTC tax credits, which will generate approximately $18.7 million in private equity. Also, the DCA has awarded $6 million to Asbury Tower through its Balanced Housing Program.
Asbury Tower is a deed-restricted project based on the Section 236 HUD program. The program allows tenants to earn up to 80 percent of area median income. More than 90 percent of the residents receive rental subsidy where the tenant pays no more than 30 percent of their income for rent. The property offers a wide range of services to help the residents age in place with dignity and independence and without the worry of having to move elsewhere. Services include:
- an assisted living program licensed by the state Department of Health and Senior Services to provide assistance with daily living for 40 of the residents;
- a congregate services program through a state grant to provide to residents such services as lunch and dinner, housekeeping and laundry based on a sliding fee scale;
- a fully staffed social service department that assists residents with personal and/or financial needs;
- bus transportation for shopping, dining and shows; and
- an in-house physician’s office that has the ability to do home visits.
For more information on HMFA programs, please call 1-800-NJHOUSE or 609-278-7400, or log on to www.nj-hmfa.com.