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May 2, 2021

Will $6.9 Million Build It? Housing Authority Receives Bids for Proposed Project

first_imgAn architectural rendering depicts what the housing authority’s Speitel Commons complex will look like when completed. (Rendering courtesy of Haley Donovan architectural firm) By Donald WittkowskiSonja Delgado pointed to one of the benches on a sidewalk at Pecks Beach Village and noted how she uses it as a novel way to gauge the severity of frequent flooding at the senior citizens housing complex in Ocean City.“Do you see that bench?” Delgado asked. “Sometimes it is underwater. It’s horrible. But we’re used to that around here. It’s been happening for years.”Flooding serious enough that it can swamp a waist-high bench has led the Ocean City Housing Authority to propose building a new 32-unit senior citizens affordable housing complex that would replace Pecks Beach Village. The housing authority received construction bids for the project on Thursday in what is the latest attempt to get it back on track after some setbacks and delays last year.Two bids were made. The apparent low bid of $6.9 million was submitted by Gary F. Gardner Inc. of Medford, N.J. The other bidder, Fabbri Builders of Vineland, N.J., came in at nearly $7.3 million.Representatives of the housing authority would not say whether the bids were in line with the agency’s internal estimates. The next step calls for the authority’s architect to scrutinize the bids to make sure they comply with all of the specifications. Negotiations will begin with the apparent low bidder.Pecks Beach Village resident Sonja Delgado uses this bench as a flood marker in the senior citizens housing complex.After originally hoping to complete the project by late 2019, the authority has now pushed back the start of construction to the first quarter of 2020 under the “best case scenario.” The project would take about 14 months to complete, meaning that it would open in 2021, authority officials said.“This is a real complicated project. There are a lot of moving parts,” Jacqueline Jones, the housing authority’s executive director, said after the bids were opened.The flood-prone Pecks Beach Village complex is located on Fourth Street in the north end of town. Plans call for building the new 32-unit senior citizens project next to the housing authority’s existing Bayview Manor housing complex at Sixth Street and West Avenue.The construction contract would have to be formally awarded by the authority’s board of commissioners before work could begin. It would likely take 60 days before the board would do that, assuming that at least one of the bids is acceptable, Jones explained.Before construction gets underway, approvals would also be needed from the city, the state and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing representatives said.“Everybody has to be on the same page,” said Rick Ginnetti, of the Brooke Group, the Ocean City Housing Authority’s development consultant.Ocean City Housing Authority architect Michael Donovan opens the bids while the agency’s executive director, Jacqueline Jones, watches.Pecks Beach Village was swamped by storm waters from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, underscoring the need to develop new housing in a location less vulnerable to flooding. It continues to suffer from flooding during storms and even in high tides.Ocean City is in the closing stages of building a major drainage project in the north end of town, including the area surrounding Pecks Beach Village. The work includes new drainage pipes, road improvements and pumping stations to alleviate flooding.The housing authority will demolish the senior citizens portion of Pecks Beach Village, located on the north side of Fourth Street, after the new housing project is completed. The senior citizens who live in Pecks Beach Village will be moved into the new project, which will be called Speitel Commons, named in honor of the late housing authority commissioner Edmond C. Speitel Sr.Pecks Beach Village also includes affordable housing for low-income families. The 40 family units are located on the south side of Fourth Street. The family units will stay for the time being, although there are longer-range plans to replace them with new housing construction.Last year, the housing authority had proposed building a new 21-unit affordable housing project to replace the senior citizens complex at Pecks Beach Village. Those plans were dealt a setback when two separate rounds of bids came in much higher than the project’s estimated $4.2 million price tag.Going back to the drawing board, the authority conceived plans to expand the project to 32 units in a funding partnership with the city.“It will be a beautiful project when it is done,” said Michael Donovan, of Haley Donovan, the housing authority’s architect. Pecks Beach Village, located on Fourth Street, includes one-story cottage-style housing units.In March, City Council approved a $6.6 million bond ordinance to build or rehabilitate affordable housing sites for senior citizens and low-income families. The projects will help Ocean City meet its state-mandated obligation to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing as part of a court settlement in 2018.One of those projects is the proposed senior citizens complex that will replace Pecks Beach Village. In addition to the city’s money, the housing authority previously announced plans to use a $4.2 million Hurricane Sandy recovery grant to help finance construction.Ginnetti, the authority’s development consultant, indicated Thursday that all of the funding for the project still must be finalized. Money from the city and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency are expected, but other sources of funding will be pursued, too, he said.“It’s a little bit premature to take a look at that yet. We have to dig into that,” Ginnetti said of the funding.In the meantime, residents of Pecks Beach Village are waiting for more information about the new project.Sonja Delgado, the resident who uses the bench as a flood marker, is wary of leaving Pecks Beach Village despite the storm waters that frequently inundate the housing complex.The one-story, cottage-like units have their own yards and offer some degree of privacy for the residents, Delgado pointed out. She is worried that the proposed multi-story housing project next to Bayview Manor will have only one way in and out of the building and will not give residents any privacy.Pecks Beach Village residents Skip Rowell and Sonja Delgado talk to their neighbor Carol Diestler, who is moving out of the housing complex.Delgado, who has lived at Pecks Beach Village since 2016, wants the housing authority to consider making the existing units flood-proof instead of building a new project at a different location.“I think they should look into fixing the problems here so we can stay,” she said.Skip Rowell, another Pecks Beach Village resident, also is reluctant to leave. He cited the same flooding problems as Delgado, but said the peace and quiet he enjoys far outweighs any inconvenience caused by storm water.“I enjoy my privacy. Everybody likes their own little spot here,” said Rowell, who has lived at Pecks Beach Village since 1994. “For the peace and quiet we have in this little development, we can deal with the flooding.”last_img read more

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