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Take Our Rahway Artist Housing Survey!

August 23, 2012

The empty lot behind this building is the future site of AFHDC’s affordable artist housing in Rahway, NJ.

Last week, The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) launched a market study of those in the arts, entertainment and creative industries to determine the feasibility of and interest in affordable housing in Rahway, NJ. The launch event took place at the Hamilton Stage, the newest component of the booming Rahway Arts District (RAD).

This first step–a four-week initiative–is looking for feedback from those working in the arts who live in the region spanning metropolitan New York and central and northern New Jersey. The survey’s results will help shape the Rahway Residence for the Arts, a 69-unit affordable housing project to be developed by the AFHDC. Of course, the more people who take the ten-minute survey, the better, so if you’re interested, visit www.RahwayArtistHousingSurvey.org!

The proposed site is in the middle of the Rahway Arts District, on now-vacant land between the Hamilton Stage and the Union County Performing Arts Center, and only three blocks from Rahway’s New Jersey Transit train station.  The AFHDC development team includes Crawford Street Partners of Newark, NJ, and the Ingerman Group of Cherry Hill, NJ. A former two-story office building located on the site will be donated to the City of Rahway for use as an arts education facility.

Check out some video highlights from the launch (embedded below), which also includes photos of the neighborhood. During the event, attendees learned about AFHDC plans to redevelop the property owned and previously used by Elizabethtown Gas at 210 Central Avenue. The site will include spaces devoted to resident and community cultural use such as rehearsal rooms, galleries, studios, and an arts education facility, in addition to affordable housing for artists.

Along with Actors Fund President and CEO Joe Benincasa and the AFHDC’s Scott Weiner, attendees included leaders of the New Jersey arts community: Leo Vasquez of Rutgers University’s Arts Build Communities; Teya David and Libby Reid of the Union County Cultural & Heritage Commission; and Karen Pinzolo of ArtPride NJ.. Also in attendance were Rachael Faillace, executive director of the Rahway Arts District; Russ Taylor, president and CEO of the RSI Bank in Rahway; and Rahway officials including Samson Steinman, president of Rahway City Council and executive director of the Union County Performing Arts Center and Hamilton Stage, and William Rack of the Rahway Redevelopment Commission. Actors and other artists living and working in the region who would benefit from the availability of affordable housing also attended the event and were among the first to complete the online survey.

In May of this year, the city of Rahway designated the non-profit AFHDC as the redeveloper of the site for the affordable housing project. Together with its development partners, the AFHDC is planning to develop, own and manage affordable rental units for individuals and families with low and moderate incomes. Current plans anticipate construction to begin in 2013.

This is the first step in a community engagement effort that will be documented and shared widely. The survey will close on September 14th, after which the results will be captured in a report and posted on The Actors Fund website.

The Actors Fund Housing portfolio includes The Lillian Booth Actors Home, an assisted living and skilled nursing care facility in Englewood, NJ; as well as affordable supportive housing at The Palm View in West Hollywood, CA; The Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence (formerly The Aurora) in New York City, and The Schermerhorn in Downtown Brooklyn. Additionally, the AFHDC is actively evaluating opportunities for future developments in New York City, Newark, and Los Angeles.

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