Regency Park getting new owners By: DANIELLE CAMILLI Burlington County Times
MOUNT HOLLY - The beleaguered Regency Park housing complex finally may be getting new owners and a major multimillion-dollar overhaul under a plan that officials say would "bring greater affordability."
Regency Housing Associates, a limited partnership of two companies that specializes in rehabbing affordable housing projects, has a contract to purchase the 123-unit apartment building and 40 townhouses off Levis Drive near High Street. The contract must be approved in federal bankruptcy court before the deal can be finalized, officials said.
Regency Housing Associates, a limited partnership of two companies that specialize in rehabbing affordable housing projects, has a contract to purchase Regency Park housing complex in Mount Holly. FILE PHOTO
The hearing, scheduled for Sept. 21, comes more than two years after complex owner John Jennings filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, seeking relief from more than $10 million in debt. When he filed in July 2007, Jennings claimed $13.4 million in assets, including the $11 million complex. Under Chapter 7, those assets would have to be sold to pay off the debt. Last September, the trustee named to oversee the debt repayment tried to auction off Regency Park, setting a minimum bid of $6.3 million, but found no takers. Now Regency Housing Associates has a $20 million plan to save the property, which has been plagued over the years with maintenance and other issues. Last summer, the elderly residents went several days without working air conditioning as temperatures soared. The company is a subsidiary of the Wishcamper Companies Inc. of Portland, Maine, and Rocky Mountain Development Group Inc. of Missoula, Mont. They are partnering with WoolmanSpring Inc., a Mount Holly-based nonprofit housing developer, according to Mike Bouchee, partner and vice president for Rocky Mountain Development Group. "Our primary purpose is to preserve Regency Park as affordable housing for the residents and the township of Mount Holly," Bouchee said Friday. Plans call for major renovations to the units and the common areas. Bouchee said the project would designate all units as affordable and would lower rents. About 80 percent of the complex is currently designated as affordable housing. Affordability has been a pressing concern of the mostly elderly tenants at Regency Park. With the future of the complex uncertain for so long - and attempts to remove the deed restriction keeping it as affordable housing - tenants worried that they would have to relocate.
Several said they would not be able to afford higher rents. "If we're successful, we'll bring greater affordability to the project. ... We want to update the property and make it safe and modern for everyone who lives there," Bouchee said. "The purchase price is just a small portion of the investment we are making there. It's a $20 million project and we are putting all our resources behind it." He said the company will purchase the property for about $7 million. The senior mortgage holder is PAMI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lehman Brothers. Bouchee said the company has state and federal applications for funding pending, including with the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. WoolmanSpring applied for a $9.75 million grant under the Neighborhood Stabilization 2 Program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project would also use about $4.2 million in tax credits, according to the grant application. "We are working on the funding now and a lot of pieces are in process," Bouchee said. "We would love for this project to be the anchor for the redevelopment of that neighborhood." Regency Park is within several hundred feet of Mount Holly Gardens, the neighborhood slated for residential and commercial redevelopment. The Township Council earlier this month passed a resolution of support for Regency Housing Associates' and its affiliates' applications for funding. "The council is very excited and feels this is good for Mount Holly and its residents," Township Manager Kathy Hoffman said. Contact: dcamilli@phillyBurbs.com 609-267-7586 August 31, 2009 03:10 AM