Lawrence Township, Mercer County
Township of Cranbury, Middlesex County
Project Freedom at Lawrence is
a 54-unit apartment complex and community center designed and constructed
especially for adults with disabilities. This is the third complex
Project Freedom has developed in Mercer County; other locations
include Robbinsville and Hamilton Township.
This 13-acre site was a vacant lot owned by the
New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) for 50 years. DOT
had intended on using this lot for a roadway until Lawrence Township
acquired the property. Project Freedom negotiated a 75-year lease
with the Township with a deed restriction for affordable housing.
This site was ideal for this type of project due to surrounding
residential zones, a bus line running through the area, and its
proximity to various shopping centers.
The development was almost scrapped, however, when
construction revealed contaminated historic fill on the property.
During Project Freedom’s construction, large quantities of
ash and demolition debris were found 8 feet below grade. This was
a turning point for Project Freedom, which felt it did not have
the resources to address the contamination. It took a true group
effort, spearheaded by Project Freedom, Tracee Battis of the New
Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), the New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and others to come
up with the knowledge and resources required to handle the $1million
remediation. HMFA eagerly provided coordination, while DEP Case
Manager, Chris Dwyer, offered technical guidance and approved the
project plan within a month of submittal.
Under the direction of Case Manager Dwyer, Project Freedom was
able to solve the problem of residual soil contamination with an
engineering control. The building’s concrete slab will serve
as a cap for the low-level contamination remaining after 2,000 yards
of contaminated soil was excavated and disposed off site. A No Further
Action (NFA) letter for the contaminated soil will be issued upon
the submission of a finalized deed notice.
Project Freedom at Lawrence has been a tremendous success. Upon
its opening in November 2003, 50% of the units had been filled,
and by January 2004, only 1 of the 54 units remained unoccupied.
A "before" view of the site
One of the "after" views of the site.
Site reuse is not just about property. It is also about helping