Solar Powered Apartments Opens

Solar Powered Apartments Opens NEWARK, NJ - The city's first, soon-to-be fully solar-powered, low-income housing development opened today, offering affordable apartments with amenities and high-tech features that city residents weren't used to seeing. "This place here is a heaven. It's a blessing," said Raven Williams, 61, while visiting Park Place in the city's Central Ward during a grand opening ceremony.

Williams said he leaves the Felix Fuld public houses, an aging complex on Mohammed Ali Avenue, slated for demolition, to move into Park Place today. "There's no comparison between the two," he said.

The 45 one-, two- and three-bedroom townhouses at Park Place on South 12th Street, included solid surface counter tops in the kitchen, frost-free refrigerators, central air conditioning, and hook-ups for washers and dryers. Outside, there are rust and forest green-colored shutters, brick facing and landscaped front and back yards for each unit.

At the center of Park Place is a sculpture of a young boy and girl holding hands made by Newark artist Jerry Grant. Surveillance cameras monitor the grounds of the complex, which also has a 3,600 square foot conference center and parking lots.

Solar-powered panels will be installed on the roofs of the townhouses next month, reducing energy costs by 35 percent, said officials with the housing authority.

The city's first solar-powered affordable housing complex - City View Landing on West Kinney Street - opened last year with a 20.64 kilowatt solar panel system, that only partially delivers power to the development.

Keith Kinard, executive director of the housing authority, said Park Place and other recently constructed public housing developments are part of a plan to replace aging authority complexes with new energy efficient housing that rises above the generic look of conventional construction.

"Forget the fact that these are 100 percent affordable housing," Kinard said at the ceremony. "These are some of the highest quality construction units that you will find across this country, sitting right here in the middle of the Central Ward."

The Claremont Construction group developed the complex, and is finishing off a nearby, 33-unit complex to be called Oak Brook, under a $21 million contract with the authority.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, also at the ceremony, noted that construction of Park Place was a true community project. Over 65 percent of the subcontractors used were local, minority- and/or women-owned businesses. According to the authority, 75 percent of the workers on the project were minorities, and 58 percent were from low-income households.

Across the street from Park Place is Westside Village, a 1970s public housing complex built from cinder blocks. Chisson Jones, a resident there since 1988, complained that the floors of her apartment were caving in, and that her bathroom was infested with mold.

She gazed across at Park Place, where the ceremony was held and said she felt left out. "It's alright to build new complexes for the unfortunate, but why forget the people who have been paying their rent on this side of the street?" she asked.

Kinard said the recession had slowed the authority's plans of replacing Westside with similar new construction. In time, he said, he hopes to continue the progress, and have new townhouses there.

More Stories

Get The Newsletter

Get The Newsletter

The latest multifamily industry news delivered to your inbox.