Monday, June 30, 2014

Modular Housing Key to Building Jersey City Housing Project

Jackson Green Homes, a 22 single-family homes across the street from the Hub shopping center on Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City, NJ is nearing completion with the help of a multinational conglomerate.

For eight years, Interfaith Community Organization and Honeywell International were bitter opponents in federal court. The community group, which is being reorganized under the banner Jersey City.

Together, sought to force the corporate goliath to remediate the 32-acre Roosevelt Lanes site off Route 440 – the largest known chromium site in the city – after Honeywell absorbed the company responsible for the actual pollution.

In 2003, a federal judge ordered Honeywell to remove all the contaminated soil from the site, replace it with fresh fill, and clean up any contamination in the ground water and in the Hackensack River. That cleanup started in 2006 and is ongoing.

As part of the court settlement, Honeywell agreed to set aside $2.5 million for affordable housing construction in Jersey City, which is what ICO was seeking to do in the first place — build homes — but the leaders kept running into chromium dumps.

The $2.5 million is now being used as a revolving loan construction fund to build the 22 homes at Rose and Kearney avenues on a lot that had been a breeding ground for rats and mosquitoes for 40 years.

The community group and its nonprofit builder, TRF Development Partners, have signed an agreement with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency to build 100 more homes in the area.

Honeywell spokeswoman Victoria Streitfeld said the company is "pleased to see the completion of the project and the expanded affordable housing available for the residents of Jersey City."

The three- and four-story homes that comprise the $7.2 million Jackson Green development are being sold for between $112,000 and $204,000 — a price that families earning 80 percent of the area's median income, or $61,000 for a family of four, can afford, Jersey City Together leaders said.

The homes are built at two factories, one in Pennsylvania and one in New York. At the Rose Avenue site, 11 contractors, most from Jersey City, do the finishes and exteriors, and hook up the utilities. So far one family has moved in and the other 21 units are under contract. Construction is expected to be finished by mid-July and all the families moved in by the end of August.

Modular construction has a number of advantages over construction done on-site. Those benefits include faster construction, minimum waste and minimum debris at the site. Vandalism is also less of an issue,  while the insulation can be sprayed at the factory to create an extremely tight seal, making the house very energy efficient.

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