Building America Hosts Worker Lunch at New Jersey Project Site

October 8, 2013


Building America CDE, in cooperation with the Essex County Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), hosted a lunch today to honor the union workers who are building the $64 million Halsey Street Workforce Housing project in downtown Newark. This project is the second phase of a major redevelopment effort designed to revitalize the economically distressed central part of the city.

Building America, a subsidiary of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT), is providing $10 million in New Markets Tax Credits to help finance the Halsey Street Workforce Housing development, creating an estimated 315 union construction jobs. This phase consists of three buildings with 123 residential units, all affordable to families earning less than 80% of the area median income, and 29,000 square feet of retail space. The housing and a new grocery store are intended to help attract working families back to the city to help reverse the long-term middle-class exodus.

Attendees at the lunch included Martin Schwartz, President of the Essex County BCTC, who credited Building America's financing with allowing the project to move forward. "It created jobs for our members who had been out of work for many, many months," said Schwartz.

Representing the HIT and Building America at the event were Labor Relations Director Rod DuChemin and Carol Nixon, Director of the HIT’s New York City office.

One of the workers on the project was Eric Guinyard, a Shop Steward for Laborers, Local 3. "I'm a lifelong Newark resident. It's a pleasure that we're getting this opportunity to rebuild our city," he said. "It's been long overdue, and now we're revitalizing, providing jobs for the residents of Newark to rebuild our city." 

Others on hand to thank the construction workers included Tom Giblin of the Essex County AFL-CIO; developer Ron Beit, RBH Group; and Dave Williams, Hollister Construction. 

Newark Mayor Cory Booker recently acknowledged the role of union labor in this major redevelopment when he marked the completion of the project’s first phase at a ribbon-cutting celebration in September. There, he thanked the BCTC’s Schwartz for everything the building trades unions are doing to create job opportunities for local residents. The project, he said, “is about getting Newarkers to work, getting Newarkers trained, getting Newarkers ready to ride the wave of incredible development that’s coming.”