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Ribbon Is Cut on Monty's New Affordable but Classy Apartment Bldg

By Barbara A. Preston l July 5, 2021

Despite the 101-degree outdoor temperature—Developer PIRHL LLC, public officials, and a few residents gathered Wednesday to celebrate the grand opening of an affordable but classy rental community in Montgomery Township.

Montgomery Crossing resident Kelly Tripaldi, left, with Montgomery Mayor Devra Keenan at the ribbon cutting ceremony. (Photo by Barbara A. Preston)

A teary-eyed Kelly Tripaldi, who recently moved into the 86-unit apartment building, stole the show when she took the microphone to thank the community for "believing in her."

"I was one of the fortunate ones who came here. I cannot thank you, and PIRHL, and all the people who give people like me a chance to thrive, and to be somewhere that we can finally call home,”she told the small group of dignitaries crowded under a small tent on the sweltering blacktop. "They saved me from the wreckage per-say."

PIRHL, which has offices in Hamilton as well as Chicago, developed the $22 million project, called the Apartments at Montgomery Crossing. The community includes 86 units for working families, seniors and professionals earning incomes at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income.

Lara Schwager, PIRHL senior vice president of development, said people like Tripaldi are the reason why PIRHL builds affordable housing. "It surely takes a village to build an affordable housing community," she said.

Public officials with development partners and a few residents in attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 30.

It took funding contributions from Montgomery ($1 million), from Somerset County, and from Bank of America (the construction lender, and the organization that monetized the many tax credits available through the project). Sharbell Development Corporation of Robbinsville, which is currently building 107 luxury market-priced rowhomes at Montgomery Crossing, donated the land for the affordable housing project.

Some Montgomery residents on social media had criticized the project, which put all the affordable units in one building. Some argued the low-cost units should have been interspersed in with the luxury rowhomes.

"At the end of the day, it takes land to develop affordable housing," Schwager said. "Sharbell provided this land, which will truly enable us to become part of the community. If you look around, this isn't a stand-alone affordable housing building in the middle of nowhere. There is a true community around here that our residents are going to be a part of. So we thank Sharbell."

A common room in the affordable housing building is tastefully decorated and features granite counter tops, works of art, and gorgeous coffee table books. Mayor Keenan and Planner Lori Savron are in the background.

Dignitaries who attended the event included two Somerset County commissioners; the president of NJ Bank of America; Mortgage Finance Agency Executive Director Melanie R. Walter; Montgomery Deputy Mayor Marvin Schuldiner, and Montgomery Mayor Devra Keenan.

Keenan briefly addressed the small crowd, keeping it short in consideration of the heat. "We need more affordably in our community and throughout New Jersey," she said. She thanked Township Administrator Donato Nieman and Township Planner Lori Savron (who both attended the ceremony) for their hard work in helping to orchestrate the project, as well as all the partners that pitched in."

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Mortgage Finance Agency Executive Director Melanie R. Walter characterized the Apartments at Montgomery as "the best of the best."

"What you see here," Walter said about the Montgomery Township project, is "on the cutting-edge of what can be done in our communities. We take a great deal of pride that, when you walk past an affordable housing development in New Jersey today, you don't know that it's an affordable housing development."

Tenants "include senior citizens, families, and our veterans," she said, "and this building includes nursing support and access to a walkable community. No one in this building is different from anybody else. And, they have access to all the wonderful resources in the high opportunity area in which they are living."

New Jersey needs more that 300,000 units of affordable housing to meet the needs in the state, Walter said, and noted that more than 24,000 have been built in the state the past three years.

The Gershen Group is the property manager.


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