Size: 43,700 SF
Type: Multi Family Housing
Definition: New
Date Completed: 12/01/2009


Owners: Domus Housing Corp. and Catholic Community Services Corp., Newark, NJ
Architect/Designer: Steven S. Cohen Architect, P.C., Princeton, NJ
Structural Engineer: Harrison-Hamnett, P.C., Pennington, NJ
General Contractor: Del-Sano Contracting Corp., Union, NJ
Masonry Contractor: Clayton Block, Lakewood, NJ
Masonry Supplier: Cast Stone by Shelby LLC, Gloucester City, NJ
Landscape Architect: Alan Goodheart, Princeton, NJ
Other: The Affordable Housing Group, Philadelphia, PA

Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requests proposals from non-profit sponsors for a grant to construct low-income senior housing through the HUD Section 202 program. In 2004, the Archdiocese of Newark, together with their housing development group, Domus Housing Corp., suggested to the board of St. Mary's Church of Dumont, New Jersey, that they consider demolishing a long-vacant convent on their property to create low-income senior housing.

The town of Dumont, like many other communities throughout the country, has residents who can no longer afford to live in their own homes, and would benefit from the companionship, services, and greatly reduced costs of this government program. In 2005, an application was submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and, through a very competitive process, a grant was provided for the construction. The fully ADA-compliant senior housing includes 49 single-bedroom units, plus one living unit for a resident manager, in a four-story, 43,700 square foot building.

The site occupies a very small piece of land on a visible corner within the community, passed by thousands of people every day. The existing St. Mary's complex consists of the Church, an adjacent school, and several other buildings built over a number of years. All are faced with brick. It was clear to the owner, architect, and construction manager that the new building should be brick, in a color and texture that would be consistent with the nearby buildings.

Life cycle costs are critical in a costly low-income senior housing project. A brick façade, masonry bearing wall, and precast concrete floor system were chosen to respond to concerns of long-term operating expenses and longevity. Sustainability was the goal, while providing enough detail in both building shape and design to blend with surrounding structures.

The construction manager and masonry supplier worked closely to choose a brick that met the project budget and was consistent with adjacent buildings. Proper budget control on the part of the construction manager allowed the entire building to be completed in brick. The building is Energy Star compliant. It incorporates the latest concepts in creating a proper thermal envelope in terms of building insulation, window and door flashing, and detailing. Masonry provided the added benefit of acoustical control.

The building was completed in 11 months, dedicated in Dec. 2009, and quickly leased and occupied. The town of Dumont was very supportive of the project, which met a housing need and incorporated the use of brick.