Today the Atlantic City Housing Authority (ACHA) and The Michaels Organization broke ground on a major rehabilitation effort for Buzby Homes, the 126-unit affordable housing community that has remained largely untouched since its construction in 1952. The Atlantic City Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, including Vice Chair Dr. La’Quetta Small, Treasurer Stephanie Marshall, Assistant Treasurer Eli Gbayee, Commissioner Jesse Kurtz, Commissioner Patricia Tweedle, Commissioner Mauro Sandoval, and Commissioner Geoff Dorsey, joined Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr., Assemblyman-elect Don Guardian, Assemblywoman-elect Claire Swift, Atlantic City Council members, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, The Michaels Organization, and neighborhood residents in officially launching the reconstruction.
The plans for the new Buzby homes include new sustainability and flood-resiliency designs, as well as job opportunities for Buzby and surrounding residents. Current Buzby management staff will be rehired when the $15.4 million project is completed, which is projected to be in March 2023.
“Today is a great day for Buzby Homes residents,” said Mayor Marty Small Sr. “Over the past few decades, Buzby Homes has fallen into great disrepair, with serious issues that can no longer be addressed with a band-aid. This project is a major step forward in strengthening our City, and we applaud the Atlantic City Housing Authority and The Michaels Organization for not only renovating Buzby Homes with the comfort of residents in mind, but for ensuring that the renovations are built to withstand the unique coastal weather challenges we experience.”
“We’re so proud to work with The Michaels Organization to develop modern and environmentally equitable affordable housing for Buzby residents,” said Denise Gordy, Interim Executive Director of ACHA. “Too often, communities like these were originally constructed without a resiliency plan in place to mitigate changes in the natural environment. But by the time our work here is finished, Buzby will be primed to withstand the literal and figurative storms Atlantic City has grown to face.”
Once complete, Buzby will be one of the most energy-efficient and resilient communities in the City. The community room will in particular feature many resiliency upgrades, including solar panels, an emergency generator, potable water storage tank, and energy-efficient appliances. The plans were developed by SOSH Architects and Urban Practice, and the engineers on-site will be Arthur W. Ponzio Co. & Associates and RPM Engineering.
“The Michaels Organization built our first-ever affordable housing community in Atlantic City nearly 50 years ago, and we still help manage it and several others throughout the city today,” said Nick Cangelosi, Vice President of Michaels Development. “Michaels plays the long game. Once we invest in a project – and in people – we see everything through until the end and are committed to helping find success in both the short and long term. And now we greatly look forward to helping Buzby succeed and in maintaining its transformation.”
“We are pleased to be a part of this project to restore 126 affordable family units in Atlantic City,” said NJHMFA Executive Director Melanie R. Walter. “As the majority of renters in Atlantic City and surrounding metro area are housing cost-burdened, building and supporting affordable housing is critical to the comprehensive revitalization of Atlantic City. As the city continues to redevelop, NJHMFA looks forward to supporting further affordable housing development opportunities in the community.”
Michaels met with residents several times this year to gather input on the homes’ new interior finishes, which will include granite countertops, in-unit laundry, upgraded wood-tone vinyl plank flooring, ceramic tile bathroom floors, covered front porches, new individual room control heating and air conditioning systems, and energy-efficient lighting and appliances. A refurbished community center will also include commercial laundry machines, new flooring, lighting, restrooms, and a game room. There will also be four fully accessible apartments added to the site, for a total of six ADA apartments.
“I have lived in Buzby Homes for 28 years now and have experienced first-hand its decline,” said Rose Alicea, a long-time resident of Buzby Homes. “But it has been great to work closely with ACHA and Michaels on the plans to rehabilitate, and we are all so excited to see them come to fruition. We can’t wait to move in!”
Affordable housing development can often be a challenge, given financing and many other regulatory constraints. But Atlantic City also faces unique challenges with its ocean-side location and rising sea levels, and several affordable housing sites scattered throughout the city still desperately need upgrades — perhaps most notably Stanley Homes on Adriatic Avenue. In fact, Stanley Homes is the oldest affordable housing community in the state of New Jersey. However, the Michaels Organization recently received a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help turn Stanley around – so be sure to stay tuned for updates on this exciting endeavor in the future.