Northvale will allot senior housing for veterans

BY Christopher Lang, Staff Writer, @topherlang2, Published July 8, 2013 | The Record

NORTHVALE — A new senior citizen apartment building will dedicate eight one-bedroom units specifically for military veterans.

This is a “first of its kind for us,” said Domingo Senande, the executive director of the Housing Authority of Bergen County, which is developing the building. “This is not very common at all to set aside space for [military] veterans.”

Local officials approved the project in May after several meetings with the Housing Authority and its architect, Steven Cohen.

The project on the lot at St. Anthony’s R.C. Church at 199 Walnut St., calls for a three-story building with 29 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit for the building manager. Each one-bedroom apartment will be 650 square feet in size.

The apartment building is for seniors, but dedicating the rooms for military veterans was “the right thing to do,” said Senande. “It is integrating our veterans back into the community.”

He noted the availability of public transportation in the borough and the new building’s location near the center of town.

The Housing Authority also will provide added support services for the resident veterans. “The assumption is they will have some challenges to overcome,” said Senande. “So we set aside some of our cash flow for social workers and support services.”

The senior citizen apartment building will use a portion of St. Anthony’s school on the same lot as the church. The plan calls for creating two structures: one for the school’s gymnasium and the other for the three-story apartment building.

Charlotte Vandervalk, the Housing Authority of Bergen County director of development, said greenery will divide the two buildings to add an open space element to the property.

The Housing Authority, though, is still awaiting final word on its tax credit application, which will be announced July 31. The tax credit award is accompanied by a community development block grant from the state available for certain housing projects as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Senande is confident the tax credit will be awarded.

If that is the case, he said, the authority is targeting winter to start the project of about $8.5 million. He estimated that, weather permitting, it will take 15 months to finish construction.

This is the Housing Authority’s third senior citizen building in Northvale. The others are nearby, at 176 Paris Ave., and 187 Franklin St. That nearness, Senande said, will create a campus-style atmosphere, especially when it comes to parking. The new building will have 28 parking spaces. Senande said if there is not enough parking at the site, spots are available at the other two locations.

The project is co-sponsored and co-owned by the Housing Authority and Catholic Charities. The Housing Authority will manage the building and property. The two entities have worked on similar projects, most recently on 50 units of affordable senior housing in River Vale, Senande said.

The parish is leasing the land to both entities. After 45 years, the land and building will revert to the parish, Senande said. To compensate the church for use of the property, St. Anthony’s will receive $10,000 per unit, totaling $300,000. That money remains with the parish.

The majority of the school has been vacant for several years. Northern Valley Regional High School was using the building for its PIE program, for children diagnosed with autism and other disorders, and has moved its program.

With two buildings in place and a third on the way, Northvale will have nearly 50 units for senior citizens that the Housing Authority developed. The most recent completed project went online in 2012 at 176 Paris Ave. The 11-unit building quickly had a long waiting list, Senande said. He said the waiting list totaled in the hundreds, and he expects the same with the latest Northvale building.