"We must do all we can to make sure that the citizens who have made this area what it is are able to afford it," said Sires. "That is why [these are] the [fourth and fifth] affordable housing projects built under my administration."
Joining the municipal leaders at the occasion was Gov. Jon Corzine.
"Extending access to affordable housing is one of the most important things we can do to revitalize our cities, strengthen our families, support our seniors, and grow our economy," said Corzine. "I am proud to be here today to see over 100 units of housing made available to help our state further these goals."
Corzine has made a commitment to create and preserve 100,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years throughout the state.
The projects are being funded through federal, state, county, and local dollars. That last group comes out of the town's Affordable Housing Trust Fund, to which developers of regular market-rate housing in West New York must contribute. The money is collected and goes to expand affordable housing in town.
The projects were overseen by the West New York Housing Corporation in conjunction with the West New York Housing Authority.
Homes on 52nd
The first groundbreaking ceremony was at the future 52nd Street Homes, located at 564 52nd Street.
The project will commence construction in the spring of 2007 with an anticipated completion by winter of 2008. "This is going to change this whole area," said Sires.
Developing the project will be the D.R. Mon Group, which is working for the first time with West New York.
"We actually got the designation in fall of 2004, and 13 properties we had to acquire and develop," said Dean Mon, developer from the D.R. Mon Group.
The 70 condo-style unit homeownership complex will include 63 of those units as affordable housing. It will cost $18.5 million, which was funded by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, as well as local, county, and federal dollars. The town of West New York donated the land.
"Sixty-three will be affordable, seven low-income, and about 28 units will be affordable to moderate-income residents," said Mon.
According to Mon, demolition of the existing buildings and the removal of a underground storage tank at the location will start within two weeks.
"For West New York, this project means safe, quality affordable housing, and it means the transformation of a neighborhood," said Susan Bass Levin, commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. "All these dilapidated buildings will be gone and this is what neighborhood rebirth is all about. We think this will be a model for New Jersey on how to do it right."
"The mayor has a vision and the whole town is grateful for their assistance," said Mon.
There will be four buildings in the complex.
Towers part II
The second groundbreaking took place at 438 62nd St. for Kennedy Tower II, which will be an 11-story building constructed next to the senior residential building, Kennedy Tower I.
"Two groundbreakings in one day," said Robert DiVincent, director of the Housing Authority. "Six years ago we started out with 143 units of affordable senior housing [Kennedy Tower I], and today it is fully occupied. Now we have a nine-story structure, [an additional] 70 units of senior housing, and a parking facility for both Kennedy Towers. This mayor has thought of everything."
Nine stories of the building will be residential with a two-tier parking garage at the base, and will house 70 one-bedroom apartments, which will be connected to the existing tower by a covered walkway. The parking garage will also be shared by Kennedy Tower I and several spaces will be leased to the West New York Parking Authority and to residents of the surrounding area.
"This is really a great day for West New York and the state of New Jersey," said Levin. "We have a commitment to safe, quality, affordable housing [throughout the state], so these units count. This shows what you can do when you work together."
The Kennedy Tower II project will cost approximately $22 million, which is funded by multiple government sources including the Federal Tax Credits Program.
Demolition of the location will begin in January of 2007 and completion will be in December 2008.
The Housing Authority will publish advertisements with income limits for the applicants of Kennedy Tower II with residential preferences given to senior citizens.
Goodbye Mayor Sires
After the initial groundbreaking and some background on the affordable housing units to come, Hudson County officials and friends took the time to say a few words of thanks to outgoing Mayor Albio Sires, who was elected to the seat in the 13th District in the House of Representative last Tuesday.
"I look around here and I know you are going to do great things in Washington," said Levine to Sires.
"Mayor Sires never lost track of his vision," said DiVincent. "He is driven like no one I ever met, and I am happy he allowed me to be a part of this. We're sad that he is leaving us here in West New York, but he is going to Washington because of what he has done in West New York, and I feel better about having him in Washington."
Throughout the last 12 years, the Sires administration was able to add 143 affordable housing apartments to West New York's already existing 714 and also provided an additional 146 rental assistance apartments to the existing 340.
"West New York has a very special place in my heart, and I do have mixed emotions about leaving," said Sires. "We always felt that affordable housing has been a tremendous need in West New York, so we set our goals high."
Once the latest projects are completed, West New York will have approximately 1,500 families benefiting from affordable and Section 8 housing.