By Dedra Cordle
A local housing development organization has its sights set on the village of Urbancrest.
At the April 10 council meeting, representatives with Homeport, a non-profit organization that builds affordable homes for sale and rent, were in attendance to discuss a variety of concepts that would create housing developments specifically for senior citizens.
According to Roy Lowenstein, a housing consultant and developer who was speaking on behalf of Homeport, there are currently two development plans that they feel would be viable options for the community.
The first concept, he said, was to develop on residual land near Bending Brook, namely near the office building across from the apartment complex.
The concept design plan, said Lowenstein, includes building a three-story, 32-unit housing complex complete with an elevator and a host of additional interior and exterior amenities to service those with physical disabilities or mobility issues.
He said building vertically at that location was a necessity because adjacent land is located within the flood plain.
A potential drawback of that site, said councilwoman Deborah Larkins-Jackson when asked to give feedback on that particular concept, was its proximity to the railroad tracks.
“Do you think people would find it attractive to live by the train tracks?” she asked.
Lowenstein said that is not typically a huge deterrent but added that the complex would be built using sound installation to lessen the noise impact of living near an active rail line.
The second concept that was discussed included Homeport purchasing land and property owned by the village in order to build two-unit complexes at select locations throughout the community.
This concept design plan, said Lowenstein, would look like there were “ranch-style homes” at these locations rather than two obvious housing separations.
In regard to this concept, Lowenstein said he felt it was a “fairly creative design.”
“It doesn’t emphasize that it is a two-unit building,” he said. “Because it is not quite symmetrical, it makes it look more like it is a house rather than a two-story family unit.”
Much like the first concept, these buildings would also include amenities to accommodate those with physical disabilities or other mobility issues.
Though these two development concepts were discussed at length during the meeting, it is not a project that is set in stone.
According to Leah Evans, Homeport’s vice-president of neighborhood services, the senior housing development project largely hinges on funding through the state’s housing finance agency.
“We have to meet a certain set of criteria in order to receive funding (to build),” she said.
She added that she does believe the village meets most of the criteria set forth by the agency and is hopeful they will be able to build senior housing developments in the future.
After their presentation, Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. asked the Homeport representatives to get in touch with the village’s planning committee and go over these two concepts, as well as another other conceptual plans that may spring up, and present the ideas to the council in the future.