New Milford senior housing project breaks ground

Susquehanna County Housing and Redevelopment broke ground Friday to make way for a 24-unit, elderly apartment building on Church St. in New Milford. STAFF PHOTO/ STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

Construction is now beginning in New Milford on a new, elderly housing complex that occupies a piece of land once taken up by a broken down, blighted industrial building.

Susquehanna County Housing and Redevelopment Authority officials, along with state, county and borough leaders, gathered Friday on the corner of Church and Susquehanna streets, officially breaking ground on the new 24-unit, elderly apartment building.

But getting to this point was no easy task, said Joseph Matis, SCHRA chairman. “It’s been a genuine struggle to bring this project to this point,” Matis said.

Filing deadlines, zoning changes, legal and environmental challenges all presented obstacles to the project over the past few years but SCHRA and the borough worked through those issues.

SCHRA Executive Director Karen Allen said for the past 25 years, New Milford borough officials have wanted to bring elderly housing to the town.

And the need for affordable housing has only increased with the development of the Marcellus shale in the area.

In nearby Hallstead, SCHRA reports that there is consistently a waiting list of about 50 people for the Howard J. Emerson apartments.

New Milford Mayor Joe Taylor said, “We really appreciate this. It has been 25 years coming. We’re 100 percent behind you.”

Commissioner MaryAnn Warren, also a New Milford borough resident, said she was excited the project was finally coming to fruition.

Earlier this year, the former Southern Tier Plastics building was demolished and remediation of the soil contamination was completed through DEP’s Environmental Cleanup & Brownfields (EC&B) Program.

DEP Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin said, “It takes vision to look at a piece of property with problems and it takes vision and courage to take on a project like that.”

Bedrin said DEP was happy to have been able to play a small role in bringing the housing project to the groundbreaking stage.

When completed, the building will have 22, one-bedroom and two, two bedroom units. Four of the apartments will be fully handicap accessible. Solar energy will be used to generate power for the common areas.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency awarded tax credit funding for the majority of the project, with City Real Estate Advisors (CREA) of Boston being the investor who purchased the tax credits.

In addition to the PHFA funding, DCED funds from the HRA program were awarded in the amount of $747,000 as well as a local commitment of $100,000 from the Susquehanna County Commissioners Act 137 Affordable Housing fund.

The project contractor is Trade Eastern Inc. and the architects are the A&E Group.