New Siena Construction Will Be Rental Units
One township committeeman is worried the renters will outweigh the buyers.
Late last year, J.S. Hovnanian—the group behind Siena, the 55 and over housing community off Route 130—decided to start leasing condominiums in addition to selling them to keep pace with the ever-changing real estate market.
Six months later, the group has teamed up with a real estate company to erect more buildings that will be available for lease.
However, one township committeeman doesn’t think the public will be happy with the transition.
“I’m really concerned about the general attitude of the public that Cinnaminson has always been a bedroom community,” Committeeman Ben Young said.
However, Young voted along with the other members of township committee (minus Mayor Don Brauckmann who was absent) for Hovnanian to move forward with the project under the auspice the group would visit the planning board next.
Peter Hovnanian and Eric Woodmont, of Woodmont Properties, a regional real estate company, brought their idea to township committee last week for approval. Since there are some changes to the original agreement, officials will have to get planning board approval as well.
Hovnanian said he understands Young’s concerns, but nothing is changing in the fact that age-restricted condominiums are still going to be offered—just some can be leased and some can be bought outright.
“We have found in today’s market that there is a segment that is interested in leasing rather than buying,” Hovnanian said. “We have not changed the character or intent of the community. What we have now done is to adjust to what the market has told us is a great opportunity.”
Hovnanian said the new lease-to-buy option is “a positive thing for the community” and already, 17 homes have been leased in the past four months.
“In three years, we haven’t been able to sell twice that much,” Hovnanian said.
Currently, the south side of Siena is occupied. North of Siena Boulevard is where Hovnanian said the “footprint modification” will be. The new condos will be slightly smaller units fit for renting. The number of units has not changed from the original layout; the group still anticipates 204 condominiums spread out over 12 buildings.
Young is concerned about the current owners at Siena but Hovnanian said he and Woodmont met with homeowners and they responded positively.
“I’m surprised the current owners were enthusiastic,” Young said.
Deputy Mayor Anthony Minniti, who serves as the director of economic development, said the new push to lease-to-buy is “precisely the product this community needs.”
Minniti said he agrees with Young and is against cluster housing, but that’s not what this is.
“Other than what we know as it being a different ownership situation, no one would ever know it’s a rental community,” Minniti said. “These are not apartments. These are not cluster housing. It’s still the exact same product.”
The reason Hovnanian must go before the township for approval is because Siena is part of Cinnaminson redevelopment zone.