Genesis completes renovation of 180-unit residence in East Orange for seniors and adults with disabilities

Seniors and adults with disabilities — two groups that often struggle to find housing — just got another option in East Orange.

Genesis Cos., a community-focused real estate development firm based in New York City, announced this week it has completed the rehabilitation of Vista Village at 70 S. Burnet St.

The 180-unit, 100% affordable residential building is dedicated to seniors and adults with disabilities. The renovations, including system updates, full unit kitchen and bathroom renovations, new windows, flooring and more, were accomplished in partnership with the East Orange Housing Authority.

Supportive services are available to residents through the housing authority’s existing programs, including activities, services to address food insecurity, resource referrals and COVID-19 testing and vaccination services made possible through a partnership between EOHA and the city of East Orange. Several units were also converted to meet the needs of residents with disabilities. The partnership between Genesis Cos. and East Orange Housing Authority guarantees long-term affordability to those who are truly in need.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and the board chair of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, said the renovation will have impact.

“Housing affordability is absolutely critical, and Gov. (Phil) Murphy and I are committed to ensuring that seniors and those living with disabilities have a safe and decent place to live in New Jersey,” she said. “This renovation project was a tremendous public and private undertaking that will provide people better access to high quality and accessible living accommodations. The entire East Orange community will greatly benefit from this major investment.”

Karim Hutson, founder and managing partner at Genesis Cos., said he was happy to fil a need.

“Across the tri-state region, affordability remains a critical issue, particularly with residents who require additional services and support,” he said. “This public-private partnership provides a framework for future developments.

“We are proud that this maintains the long-term affordability of the Vista Village Apartments and furthers our mission of keeping urban communities accessible for everyone, including New Jersey’s senior and adults with disabilities populations.”

The nine-story former public housing development was approved for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program, under which all residential units in the project will be subsidized through the Project-Based Section 8 program. The government-funded program provides rental housing to low-income households in privately-owned and managed rental units.

The RAD conversion allows for the apartment complex to take on debt to fund the rehabilitation costs. All units are restricted to households earning 60% of area median income and half are restricted to households earning 50% AMI on a long-term basis.

ETC Cos. partnered with Genesis as the project’s general contractor. DMR Architects served as the architect of record for the project. Financing for the project’s rehabilitation was originated by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, low-income housing tax credit equity from the sale of 4% tax credits, replacement house factor, public/housing capital funds, seller note from building owner, the East Orange Housing Authority and construction and permanent financing in the form of a Citibank N.A. term loan originated through a conduit tax-exempt bond structure with the agency.

East Orange Mayor Ted Green said he hopes the project is a trend-setter.

“We applaud Genesis Cos. and the East Orange Housing Authority for its commitment to building quality, affordable housing and hope the success of this strategic redevelopment sets an example for future investments,” he said.