MEND & Conifer hold ribbon cutting for Duffy Senior Apts.
FLORENCE, NJ — On September 16, 2015, Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development, Inc. (MEND) and Conifer, LLC of Mt. Laurel, NJ joined Florence Township officials and residents to celebrate the grand opening of the new Duffy Senior Apartments, located at 225 West Second St.
MEND’s chair, Max Fisher and MEND’s president & CEO Matthew Reilly welcomed guest speakers Mayor Craig H. Wilkie, Council President Jerry Sandusky, Freeholder Deputy Director Bruce Garganio, and DCA Commissioner Charles Richman as they gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony in the new community room, formerly the Duffy School gymnasium and auditorium.
Mayor Craig Wilkie said, “This senior affordable housing project preserves a part of the history and fabric of Florence Township. There was once a time when the Marcella L. Duffy School was used to educate children and now it will be preserved for people who need senior housing. Florence Township commends MEND and its partner, Conifer for its diligence and commitment to this very worthwhile community project.”Built in 1870, the Florence School No.1 only consisted of four classrooms and was the first public school in Florence. It was expanded several times, first in 1924 and again in the 1950’s, turning it into a K-8 school to accommodate the growth in the community. The building was shuttered in 2007, prompting the Township to seek options for its redevelopment. MEND and Conifer have redeveloped the building into an affordable apartment community for senior citizens aged 62 and over. There are 53 one-bedroom apartments, 35 of which are in the historic school, with the other 18 in a 3-story addition. They redeveloped the former school while maintaining the historic nature of the building. For example, the school had tin ceilings throughout the building which became deteriorated over the years. The developers were able to restore some sections, and replace others with new tin of a similar pattern. According to Sam Leone, vice president of development at Conifer,
“The first residents moved in starting in May and 52 of the 53 apartments are currently occupied. It is very rewarding as a developer to see this building preserved so that it can continue to be an asset to the community for generations to come.”
The redevelopment project was funded with Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal Historic Tax Credits, Florence Township Affordable Housing Trust Funds, Burlington County HOME funds, and a construction loan from TD Bank. Red Stone Equity Partners was the syndicator for the tax credits.