Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

A New Market for Transit-Oriented Housing


Project Name
: Linc at Orange Station
Mixed-tenure, mixed-income transit-oriented development including a new public plaza on a former parking lot adjacent to Orange station

Partners: RPM Development Group, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, City of Orange Township


Linc at Orange Station is an example of what good transit-oriented development is supposed to do: It has taken an under-utilized asset — in this case, a commuter surface parking lot — and created an entirely new community of mixed-income, mixed-tenure housing with supporting retail and easy access to multiple forms of transit, generating additional revenue for the city in the process. The new development includes 113 rental units in a building with ground-floor retail, 24 condominium units in a separate building, a new public plaza, and underground parking with a car-sharing station.

And while this sounds straightforward, it’s more complex to do in an emerging market. Its rental building is the first project in the city with a significant (45 percent) component of market-rate units — essentially an untested product. Its condominium building helps to establish viable homeownership, also a relatively untested product, by taking advantage of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s Choices in Home Ownership Incentives Created for Everyone (CHOICE) program, which allows qualified buyers the ability to secure a mortgage with low to no down payment.

Even as the project works to establish market-rate housing, a full 55 percent of the units in the rental building are restricted to households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income, providing them with the increased access to employment opportunities that proximity to transit and car-sharing offers.

Perhaps the biggest challenge this project had to overcome was that the viability of a development such as this in an emerging market was uncertain. The solution in this case was to make the effort a true public-private partnership, where each entity shared some of the risk, and will reap some of the rewards. A range of tools such as density bonuses and payments in lieu of taxes, in addition to financing tools that bridged the gap between the cost of construction and market prices, helped make the project financially feasible.

The new residences in the Linc buildings are already serving as an attractive option for those currently paying high market rents in Brooklyn and Hudson County, since the travel time from Orange station to midtown Manhattan is a comparable 30 minutes on NJ Transit’s Midtown Direct. The new retail will serve not just building residents but the larger commuting community. And the influx of new residents provides an expanded customer base to the restaurants, galleries and live-music venues and performance spaces in the nearby Valley Arts District.

 

Supporting Partners: Bank of America; County of Essex, Division of Housing & Community Development; Inglese Architecture & Engineering; New Jersey Community Capital

Video produced by Lori H. Ersolmaz, Voices of Hope Productions, LLC. © 2017 All rights reserved.

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