Virtua Health, Michaels Organization break ground on $24M affordable housing and medical campus in Camden

Virtua Health and the Michaels Organization broke ground Wednesday on a $24 million housing and health care collaboration in Camden that will integrate beautiful affordable housing with quality health care.

Designed to advance health equity and provide people with a welcoming place to call home, the 60,000-square-foot, multiuse building will feature 47 apartments and a medical practice.

Named Oliver Station in homage to the Rev. Thomas Clement Oliver, a conductor on the Underground Railroad who briefly lived in Camden, it will be the first community in South Jersey to pair medical offices and affordable homes through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program.

“We’re ecstatic to have the Michaels Organization and Virtua Health bring affordable homes and direct access to high-quality health care within the community,” Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen said. “The Virtua Health facilities will literally be on residents’ doorsteps and will also be conveniently located near the PATCO Speedline, allowing easy access for other community members, as well.”

“Every South Jerseyan deserves access to affordable, quality housing and health care,” U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) said. “By recognizing that health outcomes go hand in hand with access to a safe and stable place to live, this partnership between the Michaels Organization and Virtua Health is a holistic solution to the health care inequities facing far too many in our community. This development will not only connect more South Jersey seniors with the services they need, but will also pay tribute to Lt. Gov. (Sheila) Oliver, a tireless advocate for safe housing and sustainable health, and the Rev. Thomas Clement Oliver, who provided refuge for countless enslaved people seeking freedom as part of the Underground Railroad in New Jersey.”

Oliver Station will be a three-story, mixed-use community, built on a long-unused parcel in Camden’s Whitman Park neighborhood, at 1800 Davis St. near Station Drive, next to the PATCO Hi-Speedline’s Ferry Avenue Station.

Construction will begin imminently, and the campus will be ready for occupancy in late 2024.

Virtua Health will operate a 5,350-square-foot medical practice on the ground floor of the development. Its patients, including Oliver Station residents, will benefit from easier access to Virtua’s extensive network of providers, including social workers, behavioral health clinicians and other specialists.

The second and third floors will contain modern apartment-style homes for individuals 55 and older and their families, specifically those whose household income is no more than 60% of the area median income. Five units will be set aside for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Each apartment will contain living and dining areas, full kitchens with abundant cabinet space, full baths, and one to two bedrooms. The homes will also offer ample closets and Energy Star-rated appliances, including frost-free refrigerators and dishwashers, as well as energy-efficient heating and cooling systems that meet Energy Star Program requirements. The building will offer on-site laundry facilities, as well as approximately 5,200 square feet of community space and property management and maintenance team workspace.

“Good, stable housing and good health go hand-in-hand,” Dennis Pullin, CEO and president of Virtua Health said. “We’re honored to collaborate with the Michaels Organization to help people live better, healthier lives.”

Michaels is the largest owner and one of the most active developers of affordable housing in the U.S. — managing more than 550 communities across 39 states, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization, which is headquartered in Camden, has been developing and managing housing in Camden for the past two decades.

“The Michaels Organization is honored to continue its mission of lifting lives here in Camden, this time with Virtua Health at our side,” Nick Cangelosi, senior vice president of development at the Michaels Organization, said. “We know that many of our residents have experienced adverse life events that can cause chronic health conditions. Our collaboration with Virtua is an effort to meet these residents where they live to quickly and effectively treat existing health issues, as well as work with Virtua to prevent new health-related issues from arising in the future.”

The NJHMFA’s Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program supports the construction of mixed-use communities near hospitals — creating safe, stable housing with convenient access to health care services. Through this program, the agency matches funding contributions from participating hospitals. Virtua has pledged $4 million in support of Oliver Station.