Building America CDE Allocates $10 Million of New Markets Tax Credits for Community Center at St. Peter's College in Jersey City

December 16, 2011

New Clinical Science Center under construction at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Jersey City, NJ – Building America CDE, Inc. (Building America), a wholly owned subsidiary of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT), has allocated $10 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) for the construction of the St. Peter’s College Campus and Community Center in Jersey City. The project is Building America’s first transaction under the federal NMTC program and will create an important new resource for college students and residents of the surrounding McGinley Square community. The $49.1 million project kicks off a $500 million redevelopment plan designed to revitalize the low-income neighborhood where the college is located. 

The St. Peter’s College Campus and Community Center will be a six-story, 90,000-square-foot facility offering a myriad of venues, services, and outreach opportunities for faculty, students, local residents, and community groups. It is the first phase of an ambitious redevelopment plan that complements efforts by Jersey City to revitalize the McGinley Square public housing development as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program. 

Shown in the photo to the left, from the St. Peter's groundbreaking are: left to right, Michael Zaccardi, Local 24, Plumbers; Carol Nixon, HIT; Eric Price, Building America; Patrick Kelleher, President, Hudson County BCTC; Dan Gumble, Local 164, IBEW; Carlos Crespo, Local 4, Bricklayers; Eduardo Torres, Local 24, Plumbers; and Leonard Lambert, Local 24, Plumbers. 

“We are pleased that Building America’s first project is one that brings very tangible benefits to the residents of Jersey City’s historic McGinley Square community,” said Eric W. Price, CEO of Building America and Executive Vice President of the HIT. “The Center will create jobs and offer a range of services to students and local residents. It will also serve as a catalyst for significant future development activity that will strengthen this distressed community.” 

Building America is one of five community development entities (CDEs) that allocated a total of $38 million of NMTCs for the St. Peter’s College project. The tax credits are designed to attract private capital for redevelopment projects in low-income communities. Others contributing tax credits to make the project financially viable are Wells Fargo Community Development Enterprises, New Jersey Community Capital, Telesis CDE, and Revolution Community Ventures. Wells Fargo invested in the tax credits associated with the project. 

"To be honest, I'm not sure if we'd be at the point we are now without Building America,” said Michael Fazio, Vice President for Advancement and External Affairs at St. Peter’s College. “They took a real leadership role throughout the NMTC process and, gratefully, they were able to bring other CDEs to the table.” He adds that the new student center “will transform our campus and be a tremendous resource for our student body and the Jersey City community." 

Construction of the new St. Peter’s College Campus and Community Center is expected to generate over 240 jobs for members of New Jersey building and construction trades unions. In addition, St. Peter’s College is collaborating with those unions to begin a neighborhood-based construction trades program that will offer entry-level apprenticeship training and other specialized skills for local residents, who include large numbers of immigrants and low-income households. 

“In these tough economic times, the good union construction jobs created by this project are a godsend for our members,” said Patrick Kelleher, president of the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council. “It’s also important that we can help out members of this community by offering local residents valuable job skills leading to career opportunities in the building trades through special training and apprenticeship programs.” 

St. Peter’s College is a Jesuit institution that was founded in 1872, and many of its 3,000 students are from immigrant households. The college is federally designated as a Hispanic Servicing Institution, and 98% of its full-time students receive financial aid. 

The redevelopment plan for the McGinley Square Community anticipates over 2.2 million square feet of development in four phases over seven years. In addition to the St. Peter’s College Campus and Community Center, the plan encompasses housing, retail, office, and hotel projects. Because of high unemployment and inadequate educational and medical services, the area was designated as part of HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which helps to transform distressed areas into viable, sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. 

Building America is following the HIT’s long and successful history of helping Jersey City meet its redevelopment needs. Since 1995, the HIT has provided more than $300 million in financing for six projects in Jersey City, which represent more than $350 million of development activity, 2,116 units of housing, and nearly 2,200 union construction jobs.