After a series of setbacks that resulted in the delay last month of the groundbreaking for Elm Court II, the planned affordable 62-and-up senior housing complex on Elm Road, Princeton Community Housing (PCH) offically broke ground Monday on the project that will add 67 low-income senior units to Princeton's affordable housing stock.
The seven-plus acres of land that straddle the Borough-Township municipal border will serve as the home to the sister building of the original Elm Court, the 88-unit senior housing facility built in 1985.
The new 66,000 square-foot building is to be named the "Harriet Bryan House," in honor of the chair of the Elm Court II Committee and a PCH trustee. Cost of land acquisition and construction will ultimately come out to around $9.5 million, with more than $7 million of that bill footed by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, awarded to PCH in January 2004.
Mercer County contributed about $540,000 to the project and private monies were donated as well.
The planned 44 percent expansion will bring the total number of senior units at the site to 155, including a two-bedroom apartment for the Elm Court superintendent. Also slated for the new complex are a community kitchen and a dining room.
PCH, a non-profit organization, also received a $1.3 million commitment, formally approved by HUD last month, for Project Rental Assistance. That portion of the grant will subsidize rents for low-income seniors who qualify under HUD's Section 202 Supportive Housing Program.
But by the time that long-delayed committment was approved, the lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina had increased development costs.
"Two steps back," said Ms. Bryan during the groundbreaking ceremony Monday. PCH subsequently delayed their project, but received quick word from HUD and were able to move forward with sufficient funding.
"It has been a long road," Ms. Bryan said, "but we're thrilled to be here." When PCH acquired the lands for Elm Court II in 1999, it faced several battles with residents, largely to the north, that ultimately resulted in shrinking the original plan, which was for 74 units housed in a 79,000 square-foot building.
The new structure will be attached to the west end of the existing Elm Court building and is expected to range from two to three stories, with a target completion date sometime in 2007, said Sandra Rothe, PCH executive director.
She added that Elm Court II currently has 90 people on its waiting list.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-12), who was in attendance along with members of Borough Council and Township Committee, as well as Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, lauded PCH in its efforts, but said that more federal funding should be made available.
"We have a crying need for affordable housing," he said.
Mr. Hughes agreed. The county executive pushed for the idea of "aging in place.
"We want to make the intergenerational approach real and sustainable."
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