For Debra Tantleff, founding principal of Tantum Real Estate and a longtime developer in the state, the ribbon-cutting Tuesday at 526 Ocean Ave. in Jersey City was different from the many others she has attended.
Located in the Greenville neighborhood, 526 Ocean Ave. was designed with veterans and at-risk populations in mind.
The building, in fact, includes 1,500 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, functioning as a multipurpose facility to provide community-based services that promote responsibility, recovery and wellness. And all 20 apartments are affordable, including units reserved for homeless veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
Tantleff said it was a special day.
“I’m overwhelmed and humbled to finally open our doors to residents, including many that have bravely served our country,” she said. “Today is a culmination of a years-long endeavor for Tantum, and a victory for our broader mission to foster a greater quality of life in communities throughout the region.
“The redevelopment of this property through public-private partnership provides a roadmap for how governments and developers can collaborate to execute a new class of boutique affordable housing initiatives that address a significant societal need.”
About Tantum Real Estate
Tantum is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise real estate development and advisory firm focused on creating vibrant mixed-use and multifamily communities in the New Jersey region.
The ground-floor facility of the building will be occupied by Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, a peer-led not-for-profit agency that provides services related to food access, employment, mental health assistance and peer support groups. The property will also be managed by Community Enterprises Corp., the housing affiliate of CSPNJ. The team worked with the Hudson County Continuum of Care to identify qualified residents in need of housing, including veterans that have been honorably discharged.
Tantum arranged project financing from multiple sources, including funding from Jersey City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund in addition to capital from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, provided through both the municipality and Hudson County.
In a tribute to veterans, the building also features a striking new, street-level mural along Ocean Avenue, which honors the Tuskegee Airmen. Titled “Red Tales,” the piece by artist Vincent Ballentine depicts two pilots and World War II aircraft — an homage to the heroic Black pilots that served the U.S. during the war. Tantum collaborated with the Jersey City Mural Arts Program to source concepts for the mural.
Tantleff was joined by a number of local officials, including Carol Sainthilaire, CEO of CEC, who was grateful for the project.
“As the sibling of two veterans and a longtime housing advocate in the region, today’s ribbon-cutting represents a powerful milestone for me both personally and professionally,” she said. “The early success of this property sends a clear message: Ending homelessness in Hudson County is an achievable goal, and it starts with access to affordable housing.”