Reinhard Manor, Colonia, NJ
FLORHAM PARK, NJ—Affordable housing has been a lightning rod for controversy across New Jersey for more than three decades, but Matrix New World Engineering, a multi-discipline engineering firm is helping real estate developers efficiently navigate the complexities of New Jersey’s affordable housing puzzle.
“Developers are turning to Matrix for guidance and expertise throughout the municipal approval process. Our expertise is helping developers present the most cost-efficient, sensible affordable housing plans that comply with state directives and local regulations,” says Sean Savage, director of land development at Matrix.
Many municipalities did not rush to fulfill their state-mandated affordable housing obligations, citing a lack of direction from the court system and from the N.J. Council on Affordable Housing. Meanwhile, others towns vigorously challenged their affordable housing quotas.
In January, however, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered municipalities to move swiftly forward with new affordable housing projects, a decision that housing experts say may trigger the construction of “tens of thousands” of new lower-cost housing units across the Garden State by 2030.
“Complying with New Jersey’s affordable housing regulations can be a convoluted process,” Savage says. “Our strength is helping developers respond to community concerns and meeting the broad spectrum of state and municipal requirements and deadlines.”
Among the firm’s prominent affordable housing clients are: Monarch Housing Associates, Cranford, NJ; The Ingerman Group, Collingswood, NJ; The Michaels Organization, Marlton, NJ; The Walters Group, Barnegat, NJ; RPM Development, Montclair, NJ; and Philadelphia-based Pennrose Development.
Matrix provides a full suite of services including surveying, planning, permitting, site design and engineering disciplines.
“The one-stop shopping feature that Matrix, and firms like it, can offer is a valuable resource for developers,” Savage says. “We provide value-added services, recognizing that new development or redevelopment project rely on timeliness during the approval and financing process.”
Matrix has divisions that specialize in planning and civil engineering, enabling the firm to provide appropriate site selection, geotechnical assessments, surveys, designs, environmental impact reports and traffic studies, Savage noted.
The firm also specializes in assisting developers with challenging properties that require site remediation for environmentally sensitive parcels that are in flood zones, include wetlands or are natural habitats for threatened or endangered species.
“Clients appreciate that they don’t have to hire separate consultants to handle individual pieces of their work,” Savage says. “Firms like Matrix offer a smooth process. With one phone call to their project manager, clients can get the answers they need or the work they require.”
Matrix also helps developers identify sites for lower-cost, high-density housing, then provides site designs for apartment or townhouse projects that enhance neighborhoods with amenities like playgrounds and passive recreation areas.
A sample of New Jersey projects that Matrix helped to facilitate include:
- Spruce Street Senior Residences, Newark, NJ – The skeletal remains of the Douglass-Harrison housing projects were a blight on Newark’s Central Ward for over a decade until the city demolished them in 2010. This cleared a path for a multi-phase affordable housing development built by The Michaels Organization. Matrix played an integral role in the project’s first phase – 57 one-and two-bedroom senior citizen apartments – off Spruce Street. The firm provided land surveying, geotechnical investigation, site design, engineering, permitting, construction support, and created the final as-built documentation for the redevelopment.
- A. Harry Moore, Jersey City, NJ – This redevelopment was a progressive and ambitious rehabilitation of a troubled and outdated urban housing authority project. High-rise apartments made way for lower density townhouses and stacked townhouses. Phase IV comprised 70 units in three buildings, all Energy Star compliant and LEED certified. As a subcontractor to Pennrose Properties, Matrix played a large role, including surveying, site civil engineering, permitting, geotechnical engineering and construction administration.
- Reinhard Manor, Colonia, NJ – Matrix played a significant role in redeveloping a long-time vacant, unused school into a vibrant new residential community. The contractor, Ingerman Affordable Housing, used tax credits and Community Development Block Grant funds to construct the 62 affordable senior housing units with one-and two-bedroom apartments. Matrix was responsible for surveying, engineering, permitting, and construction support services of this redevelopment project, which was put on a fast pace for completion.