Ocean City Housing Project Speeding Along in Early Stages

first_imgA big excavator sits on a mound of dirt during construction work in late June on the Speitel Commons affordable housing project. By DONALD WITTKOWSKIOcean City’s public housing agency has already jumped ahead of schedule in the early stages of a nearly $7 million project that will provide affordable housing for senior citizens now living in a flood-prone neighborhood.Construction began on the Ocean City Housing Authority’s Speitel Commons project on May 1 and is expected to take about 12 months to complete.In an encouraging sign, the authority’s contractor is already about eight to 10 days ahead of schedule and has made two adjustments that have reduced the cost by $180,000, a consultant reported Tuesday during the agency’s monthly board meeting.Construction has initially focused on completing the foundation, but will enter another critical phase in the next few weeks when work begins on the “main platform” to support the building’s superstructure.“Once they put the platform up, now you can build the building,” said Rick Ginnetti, owner of the Brooke Group, the authority’s development consultant.The 32-unit Speitel Commons project is being built next to the authority’s Bayview Manor housing complex at Sixth Street and West Avenue. The building is named in honor of the late Edmond C. Speitel Sr., a housing authority commissioner who helped to oversee the $6.9 million project from the conceptual phaseSenior citizens who now live in the authority’s flood-prone Pecks Beach Village housing complex on Fourth Street will be moved over to the Speitel Commons building when it is completed.The senior citizens portion of Pecks Beach Village, located on the north side of Fourth Street, will be torn down when Speitel Commons is finished. The housing authority has set aside $200,000 for demolition work.Pecks Beach Village also includes affordable housing for low-income families. The 40 family units are located on the south side of Fourth Street. The family units will stay for the time being, although there are longer-range plans to replace them with new housing construction.The Ocean City Housing Authority’s proposed Speitel Commons at Bayview Manor project will include 32 units of affordable housing for senior citizens. (Rendering courtesy of Haley Donovan architectural firm)At the same time Speitel Commons is being built, the authority had hoped to begin renovating the rooms this year at Bayview Manor, another affordable housing complex for senior citizens.However, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the renovation plan for Bayview Manor. Ginnetti explained that the authority did not want to jeopardize the health and safety of the senior citizens at Bayview Manor by allowing construction crews to enter their units.Ginnetti and the authority’s staff are collaborating on a “COVID policy” that will include safeguards to protect the Bayview Manor residents when renovations do get underway. No date has been set.Renovations are expected to begin with the building’s roof and the old electrical panels in the individual units. Residents will be moved out of their units into other parts of the building for several hours while work is done on the electrical panels.Before the residents are allowed back into their units, the rooms will be thoroughly sanitized, said Jacqueline Jones, the housing authority’s executive director.In 2019, City Council approved a $6.6 million bond ordinance to build or rehabilitate affordable housing sites for senior citizens and low-income families. The projects will help Ocean City meet its state-mandated obligation to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing as part of a court settlement in 2018.The city is expected to contribute more than $2 million toward the Speitel Commons project. The New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency is providing $4.5 million in funding.The Ocean City Housing Authority and the city also plan to work together to build 10 affordable rental homes in locations across town. The authority will develop and manage the homes, Ginnetti said.Ginnetti estimated that the 10 houses will cost about $3.3 million. The city expects to pay $1.3 million, according to Ginnetti. During Tuesday’s board meeting, the housing authority approved plans to apply for a $2 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to help finance the homes.The funding application will be made through the Ocean City Community Development Corp., a nonprofit entity that was created by the housing authority in 2017 but never used. The nonprofit is being revived to apply for the money and to meet the legal requirements imposed by the Department of Community affairs on the grant, Ginnetti said.Renovation work on the residential units at Bayview Manor is delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.last_img read more