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Press Release
March 11, 2024
4 minute read

NJEDA’s Aspire Program Advances New Construction of Transit-Oriented Residential/Mixed-Use Development in Essex and Middlesex Counties


Aspire awards will support 538 new housing units, including 107 affordable residences

TRENTON, N.J. (March 11, 2024) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved projects in Newark and Woodbridge for Aspire tax credits at its March meeting last week. Together, these projects will create 538 housing units, of which 107 of those residences will be designated affordable. Combined, these two projects represent more than $310.6 million in investment.

“These two projects exemplify how the Aspire Program advances Governor Phil Murphy’s vision for revitalizing our communities through transit-oriented development, including the creation of modern market rate and affordable housing options,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The Aspire awards will modernize and expand one of the most crucial transit stations in the state and will add to the vitality of a neighborhood close to Newark Penn Station. Both projects will provide vital health care and social services for residents and the community, while creating jobs and driving economic activity.”

Aspire is a place-based economic development program created under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 (ERA) to support mixed-use, transit-oriented development with tax credits to commercial and residential real estate development projects that have financing gaps. All residential Aspire projects must include at least 20 percent affordable housing. As a performance-based program, projects must certify that all commitments established at time of approval have been met before receiving their first disbursement of tax credits.

“Aspire is a crucial gap financing tool applying tax credits to spur economic development, promoting mixed-use, transit-oriented projects in communities that need it most,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, prime sponsor of the legislation. “With at least twenty percent affordable housing included in all residential ASPIRE projects, it ensures benefits for all New Jersey residents. I look forward to seeing the completed projects contribute to the vitality of our state.”

“I want to thank the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for supporting our efforts to build both market-rate and affordable housing,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Our administration has made those efforts one of our highest priorities, working with private and public partners to achieve high-amenity convenience and comfort in residents’ housing. By adding this outstanding addition to our downtown, we will simultaneously create construction jobs, retail space and parking upgrades that enhance Newarkers’ overall living experience.”

In Newark, a project at 930 McCarter Highway, across from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, entails the new construction, led by Boraie Development LLC, of a mixed-income, residential development located on a 1.1-acre site, less than a 10-minute walk north of Penn Station. The project will include 333 residential units comprising 451,063 square feet, consisting of 265 market rate units and 68 affordable units. The 25-story high-rise building will also include 3,124 square feet of commercial/retail space, four stories of structured parking including 240 parking spaces for resident use, and various amenities.

The co-applicant is Elizabeth Development Corporation, a 501(c)(3), which has signed an agreement to provide economic, civic, and social welfare by providing a program of comprehensive economic development and social services for residents.

The project was approved for Aspire tax credits equivalent to 60 percent of total project costs up to $90 million. The project is also supported by Low-Income Housing Tax Credits through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

In Middlesex County, a project known as “Metropark at Woodbridge” will be a multi-phase, transit-oriented, mixed-use new construction development located at the current site of the Metropark New Jersey Transit Station, on an existing 12.4-acre surface parking lot. The project is situated near Routes 1 and 9, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and is roughly 20 minutes from Newark Airport.

“The NJEDA Aspire Program stands as a huge component of the Transit-Oriented development at the MetroPark at Woodbridge project – a $200 Million investment spearheaded by New Jersey Transit and Hackensack Meridian Health,” said Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac.  “The overall project not only energizes the modernization of the MetroPark complex, but will bring hundreds of high paying jobs to our economy.”

“I applaud this approval of Aspire tax credits, which will help maximize the potential of Woodbridge’s Metropark office park and transit hub. From an underutilized stranded asset to a vibrant rebirth, the project will revive the entire area and become a new hub for healthcare excellence, serving patients from near and far.” said Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “Together with the Newark project, these strategically located projects will serve as environmentally-sound economic engines, broadening the tax base and providing mixed-income housing for generations to come. They also recognize the importance of transit accessibility for New Jerseyans, who often depend on our railways for work, family visits, and recreational journeys.”

The 581,801-square foot new development will have a 325,301-square foot residential component, consisting of 235 units, with 20 percent of the units designated as affordable. It will also include 11,976 square feet of retail space, and 244,524 square feet of corporate and medical office space. The project is expected to be completed in two phases, with the corporate and medical office space completed first, followed by the residential space.

The project has three Lead Development Entities: Russo Development, Terminal Construction, and Onyx Equities. Hackensack Meridian Ambulatory Care, Inc. (HMAC), which is a 501(c)(3), is a co-applicant, and will act as the required non-profit for project financing. HMAC was formed as a non-profit organization exclusively for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes, including, but not limited to, providing medical care for sick, injured, disabled, and elderly people. This includes diagnosis, treatment, imaging and other testing, rehabilitation, and other services of every kind that improve the health of individuals and the delivery of healthcare services. The applicant and co-applicant have entered into a Participation Agreement detailing medical services and health and wellness education to be provided to tenants of the project and members of the community.

The project was approved for Aspire tax credits equivalent to 50 percent of the total project costs, up to $113.65 million for the total project, and the sum of the lesser, for each phase, of 50 percent of eligible costs or $60 million.

In line with Governor Murphy and the NJEDA’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and transparency, the Aspire program rules include provisions, such as a gap financing review and excess revenue sharing requirements, to ensure tax credits are awarded responsibly. The Aspire program application, as well as complete rules, eligibility requirements, award sizes, and other information, can be found here.

About the NJEDA

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses, call NJEDA Customer Care at 844-965-1125 or visit https://www.njeda.gov and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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