CIS to Redevelop Distressed Apartments into Affordable Units

Community Investment Strategies has partnered with the township of North Brunswick to redevelop the distressed Oak Leaf Village Apartments into 183 new affordable apartment rental units.

North Brunswick, N.J.—Community Investment Strategies Inc. has partnered with the township of North Brunswick to redevelop the distressed Oak Leaf Village Apartments into 183 new affordable apartment rental units.

The market-rate garden apartment community is located on Oak Tree Road in North Brunswick, N.J., and once completed will be renamed North Brunswick Crescent and feature on-site management offices, a superintendent’s unit and a new community clubhouse.

“We specialize in turnaround properties and this one jumped out after I went for a site visit, because it really was a value add opportunity because it was a neglected property,” Christiana Foglio, CIS Founder and CEO, tells MHN. “In keeping with our business philosophy to empower people through physical space, we are proud to be partnering with the Township of North Brunswick to restore this neighborhood with a creative housing solution that supports the lifestyle and economic needs of local residents.”

The Township is contributing $5.25 million from the North Brunswick Affordable Housing Trust Fund and will receive Fair Housing Act obligation credits.

“I knew that we could make a dramatic change there, but looking at what owners wanted, the only way to do it was to think about it with an affordable element, which could bring soft dollars to table,” Foglio says. “What we wanted to do was a full-scale rehabilitation of the building.”

Phase one is a $13 million gut rehabilitation of the existing 16 two-story buildings in which the electrical, heating and plumbing systems will be upgraded. The redevelopment will also include new landscaping, improved walkways, updated interior finishes and fixtures and the addition of energy-efficient systems.

“It’s about a $55,000 per unit rehab,” Foglio says. “The most significant things would be upgrades of the major systems, adding central air and fixing structural issues with balconies and some flooding issues.”

Each modern energy-efficient apartment will include washers and dryers and central air conditioning. Residents also will benefit from 24-hour emergency maintenance and on-site 24/7 property management services provided by CIS’ affiliate, CIS Management, Inc.

The addition of a clubhouse will also offer after school homework support and provide Internet access for any students who don’t have it at home. The idea, Foglio says, is to offer not only the physical improvements but to empower the community itself for the people who have called Oak Leaf home.

Current residents will be able to remain at the complex during the redevelopment, and will simply be moved to different units as their specific unit is upgraded. Rents are expected to go up only a modest sum, from around $900 now to $1,100 when finished.

“The location is wonderful with a tremendous amount of higher-ed resources. The idea is to reach out to the community and see what we can resonate,” Foglio says. “We don’t find sites for affordable housing so well located. It’s across from a health clinic, on a major bus route, near a shopping center. We are really excited about the property.”

The Lawrenceville, N.J.-based CIS has previously repositioned numerous properties in Elizabeth, Glassboro, Bordentown and Rahway, N.J.

Major construction on North Brunswick Crescent is expected to begin within six months.