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Historic Roosevelt Hospital to transform into senior housing

BY KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

EDISON — Leonard J. Roseman, chairman of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, said President Franklin D. Roosevelt would be proud of the developments of the Roosevelt Care Center.

In a year, the historic Roosevelt Care Center, which was built as a tuberculosis hospital on 13 acres in 1937, will transform into the Residence at Roosevelt Park providing an 84-unit affordable housing complex overlooking the county’s Roosevelt Park.

“President Roosevelt would approve,” Roseman said of the security and comfort that the units will provide seniors.

Roseman joined many Middlesex County officials, representatives from Pennrose,  the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), George J. Lisicki, past national commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and others to break ground on The Residence at Roosevelt Park on Oct. 13.

Once complete, the project will restore the historic Roosevelt Hospital. Residents age 62 and over will enjoy modern amenities within the one- and two-bedroom apartments, while living within a historically significant building.

The county and Pennrose, which is a real estate development and residential property management company, are developing the project together.

“It all began in 1937, as this building, the product of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, which my father worked for in Brooklyn (New York), opened as a tuberculosis hospital,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “It later served thousands of residents as a long-term care facility.”

Rios said as people are living longer and staying healthier, the massive Colonial-revival structure will once again evolve, offering affordable independent apartments to those who want to stay in the communities they know or give them a new, exciting place to hang their hats.

“The majestic building will help us welcome seniors into homes they can afford,” he said. “It will help our veterans, who will have preferred status for 25 percent of the units.”

This, Rios, said is one more project that helps the county freeholder board to meet its goal to end homelessness in the County.

The freeholders recently announced that Middlesex County has effectively ended veterans’ homelessness, which has been certified by three federal agencies.

Freeholder Blanquita B. Valenti said each day, 10,000 baby boomers turn age 65. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be over age 65.

“One of the biggest challenges older adults have is housing, having a place to live that is safe, affordable and provides easy access to health care and other essentials,” she said. “As we all know, housing costs represent a significant portion of our disposable income. For older adults, most of whom are living on a fixed income smaller than what they had when they were working, this percentage can become overwhelming.”

The revitalization will include one- and two-bedroom units. Six apartments will serve individuals with physical disabilities, and five will be reserved for homeless households. A full menu of supportive services will be provided to all residents.

“The affordable rents at The Residence at Roosevelt Park will help older adults to avoid having to make the difficult choice between paying their rent and having other essentials such as health care, prescription drugs and food,” Valenti said.

The HMFA, an affiliate of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), awarded the project nine percent federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which will generate nearly $14 million in private equity. The total development cost for the project is approximately $24.9 million.

Anthony L. Marchetta, executive director of HMFA, said they are especially pleased to be involved in the renovation and adaptive re-use of such a historically significant and architecturally prominent building with a rich legacy of community service.

“To be able to revitalize and repurpose this magnificent landmark to serve today’s seniors, almost 80 years after it was built to provide medical treatment for those in need, helps us to advance the HMFA mission to making quality housing available at costs affordable to New Jersey residents,” he said.

The modern units will be equipped with Energy Star appliances, carpeted bedrooms, tiled bathrooms, cable/internet hookups, and air conditioning. The revitalized facility will also include an on-site management office, community room, fitness room, common laundry rooms, a resident site superintendent, security cameras and card/FOB entry systems, an outdoor patio and resident gardening area.

Pennrose will provide on-site management and professional maintenance, as well as a supportive services coordinator who will work with the residents of the five special needs units.

The approximately $24.9 million development cost of the community not only provides affordable housing opportunities for seniors, but will continue to have a positive economic impact on Middlesex County.

HMFA estimates that the Residence at Roosevelt Park will generate approximately $39.5 million in one-time revenues.

During construction, the project will support 237 direct and indirect/induced full-time equivalent jobs. When completed, the project will continue to add value to the community by providing more than $4.4 million in ongoing economic output and 25 direct and indirect/induced full-time equivalent jobs.

The Roosevelt Care Center campus in Edison was built as a tuberculosis hospital on 13 acres in 1937. Constructed as part of the Works Project Administration, it was named in honor of the program’s creator, former president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In the 1950s, it was converted to a longterm care facility, and rehabilitation and recreation programs were added. Additions to the hospital were constructed in 1978 and in the early 1980s.

Portions of the obsolete original facility are now functioning as a medical center — treating those with terminal and disabling diseases with rehabilitation services and outpatient clinics. These functions are no longer required, because a 180-bed nursing facility was constructed in 2005 across the street. Another new facility, also a 180-bed building, opened in Old Bridge in 2011.

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