Somerset Brownstones, a 60-unit affordable housing development, opens in Newark

Baraka, Michaels Organization officials cut ribbon on four-building $21 million project that will reserve 15 units for formerly homeless

Somerset Brownstones is the type of housing development Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has long sought for the city: A mix of 2- and 3-bedroom units, all of which are reserved for families struggling to find suitable housing because of their finances.

That’s why Baraka was pleased to join Michaels Organization Vice President of Development Jonathan Lubonski and Central Ward Council Member LaMonica McIver Thursday at a ribbon-cutting for the $21 million project at 35 Somerset Street.

Somerset Brownstones, developed by the Michaels Organization, consists of four buildings totaling 60 apartment units – all of which are reserved for families earning below 60 percent of the area’s median income. The Newark Housing Authority provided project-based Section 8 operating subsidies to allow 30 very low-income households to pay rent equal to 30 percent of their incomes. Fifteen of the units are reserved for individuals who were formerly homeless, with a preference given to homeless veterans.

“Somerset Brownstones is another giant step forward in the comeback of a neighborhood that for years was red-lined, blighted, and denied needed development and upkeep,” Baraka said. “It is also a milestone in our equitable growth strategy to focus on creating more affordable housing for the lowest income residents throughout Newark.”

The Michaels Organization, a national leader in residential real estate and the largest privately held owner of affordable housing in the country, was selected by Newark as the city’s private development partner. The development plan includes significant new community green space. 

The ribbon cutting ceremony was held in one of the new parks that was built by Michaels. A second – larger – park currently is under construction.

“We are very grateful to the mayor, the city, and all the neighborhood stakeholders for their tremendous support,” Lubonski said. “Our collective effort brings not only much-needed affordable housing to this neighborhood, but also has been the catalyst for transformational change to an important and historic area of the city.”

 Somerset Brownstones residents will enjoy modern and efficient amenities in their apartments; including Energy Star certified appliances, central air and gas heat, as well as a community center, Michaels officials aid. In addition, residents will also receive supportive services focused on health, wellness, education, and economic stability from Michaels’ nonprofit partner, Better Tomorrows

Financing for the $21 million development includes $11 million in private equity raised through the sale of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, $1.5 million in Affordable Housing Program funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, and $500,000 in HOME funds from the City of Newark. Funding for the park was provided through a Green Acres grant from the State of New Jersey.

In addition to Michaels Development, other members of the development team included ARC Construction serving as the General Contractor and KNTM Architects. Matrix Engineering served as the Civil Engineer and PT Consultants served as the environmental consultant. Michaels is serving as the property management company, ensuring the community remains a quality asset for years to come.