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Fairstead, LIHC Group acquire Newark’s 691-unit affordable Essex Plaza portfolio

Fairstead and LIHC Investment Group have acquired the Essex Plaza portfolio, a 691-unit affordable housing portfolio in Newark, New Jersey.

In partnership with government officials and community organizations, Fairstead and LIHC will invest more than $27 million for sustainable renovations and improvements, as well as on-site support services, for the 450-unit senior housing residence at 1060 Broad Street, also known as Essex Plaza One, with more improvements to come for the remaining twelve buildings in the portfolio.

“Part of our commitment to a stronger and fairer New Jersey has always been to provide basic necessities to those in need,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Fairstead’s acquisition and renovation of affordable housing stock in Newark will go a long way toward ensuring that residents of the state’s largest city, in particular its senior citizens, have a reasonably priced place to call home.”

Last week, Fairstead announced a new equity commitment of $500 million to grow the company’s operations, including expanding its multi-family housing portfolio and enhancing the firm’s prop tech, sustainability, and community impact programming for residents across the country.

Fairstead will serve as the lead developer, general contractor, and property manger for Essex Plaza One.

The Essex Plaza portfolio is located in the Lincoln Park Historic District of Newark, steps away from Newark City Hall, Newark Symphony Hall, and the Prudential Center.

Essex Plaza One at 1060 Broad Street will undergo a substantial $27 million renovation expected to begin by the end of the year. Seniors will get brand new Energy Star appliances, upgraded finishes including quartz countertops, new window treatments, flooring, and more to make their apartments look and feel brand new. Fairstead will also provide internet and cable access to all units with service included in residents’ rent. A portion of the units will be brought up to UFAS accessibility standards so that residents with mobility challenges can have accessible homes.

Across the site, new lighting and signage will be installed as well as new security cameras, new windows, upgraded elevator equipment, and sidewalk repairs. The community room and accompanying kitchen will be completely refurbished and a brand-new fitness center will be created for resident use. A full-time resident services coordinator will be on-site to provide access to health, medical, and other social services as well as curate events and programming for residents.

The rest of the portfolio includes 241 units of family housing across 12 buildings in the surrounding blocks that will undergo future improvements that will also be financed through the New Jersey Housing Mortgage Finance Agency. The portfolio is supported by a rental assistance contract with HUD.

“Cities across the country are grappling with the crisis of affordability so that residents – especially vulnerable neighbors – can stay in their homes and in their communities. Fairstead is stepping up to this challenge. We are making major commitments to create and preserve sustainable housing and drive innovation that will revitalize our cities,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, CEO of Fairstead.

“We are proud to join Fairstead in revitalizing hundreds of homes for working families and seniors in line with the City of Newark’s affordable housing strategy,” said Charlie Gendron, Principal of LIHC Investment Group. “We are grateful for the support of our public and private partners in preserving and expanding safe and affordable housing opportunities for those who need them most.”

To kick off Fairstead’s partnership with the community, a job recruitment fair will be held on November 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Newark City Hall. Anyone interested in construction jobs can attend to learn more about opportunities including general labor, masonry, carpentry, tile, sheetrock/taping, painting, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work.

Fairstead will also host a Thanksgiving celebration and Community Day for Essex Plaza residents on November 20 with food, entertainment, and access to community resources.

The revitalization of the Essex Plaza portfolio is being done in partnership with the State of New Jersey, the City of Newark’s Department of Economic & Housing Development, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, with financing for Essex Plaza One provided by the Urban Investment Group within Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs) and Berkadia.

“The Essex Plaza portfolio of all-affordable housing is an important part of the housing stock that Newark residents can afford. It is especially good news that Fairstead has purchased these buildings and intends to invest more than $27 million for renovations and support services at Essex Plaza One, an important home for seniors. This is a valuable contribution toward reaching Mayor Baraka’s Five Year Equitable Housing Goals,” said Allison Ladd, City of Newark Deputy Mayor and Director, Economic and Housing Development.

Heidi Burkhart, president of Dane Global, represented the buyer and seller in the transaction.

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