Officials Hail Middletown Housing Project in Old Factory
Times Herald Record
By James Walsh
The future emerged from the past on Wednesday from a century-old Mill Street factory.
Local and state officials, as well as bankers and builders, descended on a busy construction site of what a year from now will be 42 units of workforce housing, and the third Fresh Start Café with culinary job training on its menu.
The near-$15 million project – more than $300,000 per unit – was funded with private investments through the Raymond James Housing Opportunity Fund, and financing from sources including the Community Preservation Corp., the Leviticus 25:23 Alternative Fund Inc., Walden Savings Bank, and the state Housing Trust Fund. Federal grants and tax credits were also directed at the café.
Monthly rents will range from $450 to $1,200 for the one-and-three-bedroom apartments. Most will be in the $700 to $900 range, said Patrick Normoyle of Mill Street Partners, the builder of the project.
Mayor Joe DeStefano had a good word for the project sponsor, the Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP), and Mill Street Partners.
He estimated it would have cost the city in excess of $1 million to demolish the three-story red brick building dating to 1875. Hats, shoes and furniture were once made there, but the building had been vacant for years, producing only the work of graffiti artists.
DeStefano, though, warned the state and county had to push for job creation in and near the city.
“We’re not just warehousing people,” DeStefano said.
The project will include a new four-floor addition. Renovations to the existing building began in December. They included a lengthy asbestos removal.
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said the county recognized the value of restoration – it’s in the midst of renovating its century-old buildings in Goshen – and he saw the housing with a job-training component as a welcome combination.
“You’re actually helping people on many levels,” Neuhaus said.
From the perspective of those renovating such buildings, and the government agencies approving loans for them, the expense is worth the lift it gives deteriorating areas, and the safe housing it provides.
RECAP’s Deputy Director of Operations Charles Quinn has said that the demand for housing far outpaced its supply.
“I ask you to look at the people in Newburgh who died of carbon monoxide poisoning,” Quinn said in an interview earlier this year. “There is a demand in this county for decent housing with responsible landlords.”
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