May 2019 – Cape May, NJ – Affordable living at the Jersey Shore just got a whole lot nicer, thanks to a $24 million rehabilitation project. Victorian Towers, a 205-unit affordable housing development for senior citizens located near the Washington Street Mall in Cape May, recently completed a nearly year-long renovation project.
Of the 205 rooms at the housing facility, 56 units will remain affordable through a 20-year, project-based Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract, and the remaining units will remain affordable through a 20-year, Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) agreement. The building is only a few blocks from the beach and is situated in the downtown area of the city. About 39% of Cape May’s 3,500 people are over the age of 60. Of those seniors, 5.5% are considered to be living in poverty.
The turnaround comes years after residents told a different story of Victorian Towers. In 2012, it had several vacancies, and residents complained of a number of maintenance issues, according to a report in the Cape May Herald.Now, renovations included new flooring, new windows, and re-done hallways and community gathering area. Outside of the building, seven gas lamps were also installed to keep with the Victorian-style and historic feel of the town. MDG Design + Construction, LLC and Hudson Valley Property Group completed the project, which was funded through multiple banks, with assistance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The building is owned and operated by the Diocesan Housing Services Corporation of the Diocese of Camden. At an opening Friday, Bishop Dennis Sullivan said more affordable housing is needed, especially with the aging population living longer. “(We) need much more than we currently have,” he said. “The diocese would be glad to sponsor much more, and we are available…but we need to have cooperation, especially that of political powers like we have in the present.”
Hudson Valley Property Group co-founder Andrew Cavaluzzi said the organization first discussed the project with the Diocese in 2013 and revisited the idea two years later before coming to an agreement. Cavaluzzi said the residents’ questions, comments, and understanding of the process and construction helped get the project completed. “Anytime that you have construction or renovations going on, there are a lot of nerves that come out,” Cavaluzzi said. “We went through everything, and the residents were great and were very receptive to what we had, and had some questions and comments. Because of the residents, we were able to get this done.”
The DHSC’s Executive Director, Jamie Reynolds, said the development had to feel like home. “We try to incorporate that spirit at each of the properties we operate,” he said. “We are especially pleased with the opportunity to refresh Victorian Towers and bring some new life in one of our oldest properties, which was built in 1973.”