BERNARDS TWP. – It has been more than 20 years since a housing project offered so many opportunities to find a new home in the canton.
“The Enclave at Dewy Meadows,” which takes shape behind the Dewy Meadow Village shopping complex off King George Road near Interstate Route 78, will ultimately consist of two four-story buildings housing a total of 198 rental apartments.
It will include 30 low-income apartments to help the township meet its state-mandated “Round III” affordable housing obligation through 2025.
Promotional material offers a wide range of amenities including a swimming pool, clubhouse and playground.
“The people of Somerset County expect more than the standard New York or Jersey City apartment,” said project manager Joseph Korn, a longtime township resident who manages real estate for the developer, Garden Homes. of Short Hills. “We’ve built something that matches the character of Basking Ridge.
“I think we have something we can all be proud of,” Korn said as he led a reporter during a tour of the apartments on Thursday, December 2.
In total, the project will consist of 55 one-bedroom units, 117 two-bedroom units and 26 three-bedroom units. With market-priced apartments comprising the bulk of the inventory, this is where the marketing effort has been directed.
The Market’s 49 one-bedroom apartments, each with a bathroom, range from 945 to 946 square feet and have monthly rents of $ 2,400 to $ 2,600.
Monthly rental fees for the 99 two-bedroom market apartments – each with two bathrooms and a loft option, ranging from 1,370 to 1,617 square feet – will be $ 3,200 to $ 4,300.
The market’s 20 three-bedroom apartments have two categories – two bath and 1,758 square feet for monthly rent of $ 4,200 to $ 4,400; or three bathrooms and a loft and 1,943 square feet, for a monthly rent of $ 4,795.
Ironically, the project was largely driven by the affordable housing mandate. Dewy Meadow Village opened in June 2002 with an A&P supermarket as its flagship store.
But the A&P closed permanently in November 2015, after the national chain filed for bankruptcy.
The Wilf brothers of Short Hills, owners of the property, subsequently filed a lawsuit to force the township to allow affordable housing on the site. This led to a settlement in which the township allowed the replacement of the old A&P building and a second commercial building with housing to meet the state mandate.
To help developers subsidize costs, state rules allow every limited-income home to be packed with five times as many homes at market rates.
The Wilfs, who also own the adjacent Crown Court apartment complex, were also granted permission to replace a tennis court at this complex with a three-story building housing 24 rental apartments, four of which were to be subject to restrictions on income.
This building was completed last January and is now fully leased.
Construction on the Dewy Meadow project began in the summer of 2019, but quickly encountered supply chain shortages linked to the pandemic.
Deliveries have been slowed down for everything from lumber to concrete, according to Korn. He said windows that were previously delivered in four weeks were not received for 16 weeks.
“There are constant supply chain issues, but we haven’t sacrificed any quality,” he said.
The township has also not lowered its standards, he noted. “No corner has been cut here.”
The project includes building “A” to the north with 108 apartments; and building “B” to the south with 90.
Each will have indoor parking on the ground floor under three residential floors.
Last week, Building “B” was more advanced and had a virtually finished exterior.
Building “A” was largely closed with most of the windows in place, but the exterior siding was not yet in place.
Korn said the first-floor residential apartments in Building “B” will soon receive a temporary occupancy certificate and are expected to be ready for the first tenants in two weeks. The second and third floors, he said, should be ready in 30 to 60 days.
Building “A” is expected to be completed and occupied in late spring and early summer 2022, he said.
During a tour of building “B”, construction workers walked through the residential first floor, but the hallway was comfortably heated and the rooms were carpeted and finished with furniture.
Korn drew attention to the hallway air filtration system which, he said, routes 90 percent of the air from the outside and recirculates the remaining 10 percent.
The building also has an extensive security monitoring system. An elevator had been installed but was not yet in service.
The apartments were furnished with quartz kitchen counters, custom kitchen cabinets, cooking appliances, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and their own heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units.
Each bedroom has a walk-in closet.
The apartments have large windows and have benefited from plenty of sunlight. The apartments at the front have a view of Dewy Meadow Village, while those at the rear overlook a football field bordered by woods.
“We want people to feel at home here,” Korn said. “People who have come here love the space and the large closet space. “
As for the level of interest, “it’s a constant demand,” he said. “Most people want to see a finished product. Now that they have seen it, they say “wow”. Most don’t leave without signing a lease.
Potential tenants include a mix of empty nests with grown children and newcomers who find jobs in the area or in New York City, Korn said.
Most of the empty nesters, he added, live within a 20 mile radius and sell their homes but don’t want to leave the area.
Among the potential tenants are residents of Township, the Stirling Section of Long Hill Township, Warren Township, Green Brook and even Pennsylvania, he said.
Low income apartments are scattered throughout the two buildings. This is in contrast to other “inclusion” housing projects that place luxury townhouses in one section and limited income units in another.
“You can’t say where they are,” Korn said of the affordable apartments on the project. “No tenant will know which are (income limited) and which are not.” “
He said they are finished the same, the only difference being their size.
According to the municipal website, www.bernards.org, affordable apartments will include:
• Six one-bedroom, one-bathroom units ranging from 836 to 920 square feet, with monthly rent of up to $ 1,183 plus utilities;
• Eighteen two-bedroom units with one bathroom, ranging from 849 to 938 square feet, with monthly rent of up to $ 1,374 plus utilities;
• Six three-bedroom, one-bathroom units totaling 1,108 square feet, with monthly rent of up to $ 1,599 plus utilities.
Income restrictions are set by the state. Households are broken down by size and have corresponding income limits in the “very low”, “low” and “moderate” categories.
A one-person household with an annual income of up to $ 25,972 is classified as “very low”, while a six-member household earning up to $ 114,330 is classified as “moderate”.
The guidelines can be viewed via a link on the main page of the municipal website.
A township housing consultant, the Central Jersey Housing Resource Center in Somerville, held a lottery for most affordable housing in August.
Korn noted that all applicants for limited income units must be employed. Qualified applicants may include municipal employees or people relocating from another location in the county.
“No stigma should be attached to people who live” in affordable housing, he said.
The apartments will also accept pets.
Korn said tenants will be allowed to keep pets weighing up to 40 pounds. The complex will even have a dog washing station.
Other amenities, in addition to the pool, clubhouse and playground, include business center with workspace, conference room, yoga room, bike room, parcel room , charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) and jogging tracks.
Korn said tenants would be a short walk from Dewy Meadow Village, which includes Italian restaurant Figaro, Japanese restaurant Tsuru, and Dunkin ‘Donuts, among other businesses.
Some local residents have expressed a belief that the old A&P could have been replaced by another primary tenant, but Korn didn’t see it that way.
The vacant store has been marketed for months and “nobody wanted a 36,000 square foot supermarket,” he said. “It wasn’t big enough to support this economy.”
There were also concerns that the lack of anchoring, combined with the impact of the pandemic, could also cause other businesses in Dewy Meadow to shut down. But that did not happen.
“We worked together” with these companies, Korn said. “They are still surviving. We have not lost anyone to the pandemic.
The addition of the apartment complex will result in “the perfect mixed use”, he added. “I am very proud of it. I hope the people who live and drive there are as proud of it as I am.