Orange Housing Authority to Build New, Quality Affordable Housing

Demolition of Dr. Walter G. Alexander Court a first step in revitalizing struggling neighborhood
Plans for redevelopment of the site unveiled @ press conference held 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ORANGE NJ-The Commissioners of the Orange Housing Authority, City of Orange officials and the Board of Directors of the Orange Development Corporation hosted a joint press conference at the now vacant Dr. Walter G. Alexander Court Housing Development on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 11 am. Demolition is a first major step in the construction of a new town home community. The Orange Housing Development Corporation plans to embark upon building quality, affordable housing at the site.

OHA and city officials gathered along with community members between Parrow St. and Central Place, to listen to speakers including: Clifford Ross, Chairman of the Board, Orange Housing Authority, Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Senator Richard Codey, Walter D. McNeil, Jr., Executive Director, Orange Housing Authority, and Diane Johnson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

After  the speeches, and  a symbolic demolition demonstration of the old, high-rise buildings  followed by a ceremonial ground  breaking for the new development, Orange Housing Development Corporation  officials’ unveiled  future plans for the Dr. Walter G. Alexander Complex.  The new housing community will feature 166 residential units, a new community center, new streets and improved community services. The development will enhance and revitalize the now blighted neighborhood.
“Now that demolition of the complex has begun and plans are completed for its replacement, Orange can look forward to the transformation of the neighborhood into a place of beauty and safety with new housing for families and seniors, new streets, a community center, and beautiful landscaping,” said Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Jr.

Eldridge continued, I am pleased that the “Quality of Life Task Force”, put into place when I first came into office paved the way for this moment.  The collaboration between the City and the Housing Authority has been very successful.  Not only have we secured the necessary components to demolish these structures, together we have relocated residents to better housing.

Dr. Walter McNeil, OHA Executive Director concurred, “This project has been made possible through the strong support of the Mayor and leadership in the City Of Orange. I want to also wholeheartedly acknowledge and thank the Orange Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, who established a redevelopment committee and subsequently the Orange Housing

Development Corporation, a non-profit development organization to implement our redevelopment efforts”.
The existing Alexander Court housing development was originally built in the 1950’s. The site has been severely affected by crime, drugs and vandalism resulting in the physical, social and economic isolation of the site from the surrounding neighborhood. The demolition of the dilapidated, high-rise buildings and the ultimate redevelopment of a townhouse community, will be a three phase public-private partnership which embraces revitalization with income qualified rental units and home ownership opportunities.

“High-rise public housing developments designed and built over 50 years ago like Dr. Walter G. Alexander Court, are no longer compatible with the neighborhoods of which they are apart. The cost to rehabilitate this outdated and severely distressed development would have far exceeded our available financial resources. This option is a win-win for our community, stated Clifford Ross, Chairman of the Orange Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners.

“The planned community will incorporate ideas provided by The Mayors Design Institute and be a crown jewel in this area’s renewal, “Ross  went on to say ,” we look forward to eliminating a significant problem and providing the surrounding neighborhood and the city with a wonderful asset – a brand new community that we can all be proud of.”

The new construction which will continue to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Walter G. Alexander, a long-time resident of Orange NJ who, in 1903, opened a medical practice in this city where he resided for the rest of his life.  Alexander was a president of the National Medical Association and the first African American to serve in the New Jersey Legislature. He died in 1953 at his home in Orange at the age of 72.