South Brunswick Senior Housing

Great Communities of Wonderful People


The Board of Directors and the professional employees of Raritan Valley Development Foundation beginning in February 1973 developed the concept of Charleston Place.

 Larry Gabler, an experienced urban planner, found that the Farmer’s Home Administration (hereafter referred to as FmHA) had funds available to build low income Senior citizen housing in rural areas and that South Brunswick qualified. He also found that rental subsidies were available from the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development for low income Senior citizens.  

He prepared the loan documents required by FmHA and the project was made available for funding in October 1975.

At the time the Board of Directors consisted of Lois Harrison, Pres., Carol Ramage, Grace Wikos, Kathy  Askew and Theta Duffy. Professionals were Larry Gabler, professional planner, Ray Heinrich, architect and Ted Sussan, attorney.  

Before funds were approved, after long negotiations with the Washington office of FmHA, the Board of Directors was required to be increased to nine members. Added to the Board were Jim Long, Jim O’Neill, Kathy Crane, and Robert Latimer. Dave Stern was added to replace Carol Ramage.

SBCDC was incorporated on July 5, 1977 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation with a purpose to acquire land, construct, provide and operate rental housing and related facilities for eligible Senior Citizens.

A 50 year loan of $2,335,588 was approved Aug. 10 1979 for building 84 units. Bids were sought but none came in, as inflation was rampant. The project seemed dead. But Larry Gabler negotiated with FmHA to use the loan to build 54 units. Again bids were advertised and one bid came in, D Kemmenash & Assoc. Inc. of Milmay, NJ.

Eventually, after numerous delays, 54 units and a community building were built and the first occupants moved in March 1981.

On July 16, 1982 a loan from FmHA was made to make improvements to the original buildings: cover architect’s /builder’s fees.

On Oct. 16, 1987 a loan by FmHA of $1,254,618 was made to build 30 additional units on the same site. Rent subsidies for these units were provided by FmHA.

All three loans were combined into a new loan of $4,640,000 in 1990.

Meanwhile Charleston I units were developing problems. The original exterior was a stucco compound sprayed on chicken wire. It absorbed water when it rained and eventually there was leakage in some units. We tried spraying with water repellant, but it did not work well. (It seems that apparently interior stucco was used instead of exterior grade but none of the inspectors discovered it.) 

Another problem was that shingles blew off in heavy winds, which led to leaking roofs. It was determined that 3/8” plywood had been used as the roof base instead of 5/8” plywood, hence nails did not hold well.

After many consultations with FmHA, it was decided to have a trial run of six units to replace both siding and roofs with vinyl siding & 5/8” plywood. A FmHA loan of $1,100,000 was approved in July 1990 to finish the work on remaining units.

About the time Charleston II was finished, The Board began looking toward expansion funded by FmHA. Two options were taken on lots on the corner of Route US 1 and New Road. However before an agreement with FmHA was reached, the options ran out and the price of the lots doubled. This was the end as FmHA would allow a land price of only $6,000 per unit and would not allow elevators for 3 story and higher buildings.

In 1990 President, Robert Latimer & Board Member, Aaron Rosloff began searching for vacant township lots. Several we looked at were too small but we found a 12+-acre lot next to the Whispering Woods Development.

By September 1991 the township approved the sale of lots 42 & 43.

There were restrictions, FmHA agreed to loan money to Charleston Place but required an increase in the Board of Directors to 15, because of the increased size of the loan. We did that at the December 1991 meeting.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Independent Living eyed the same property to build 15 units. After long negotiations with them and the township it was agreed to split the property, which was done.

But while delays were going on, FmHA started a new policy of building no more than 30 units per project.

We looked at a 3 story, 74 unit project in Spotswood and loved it. It was funded by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development.  We decided to go for our own 74 unit, 3-story building. We gave up on FmHA and tried for a HUD grant.  Our first application was turned down. We corrected our loan deficiencies and a grant was approved in December 1996.  Due to HUD requirements, a new corporation was formed; Oak Woods, Inc., with some of the same Board Members from the SBCDC sponsor Board.  Oak Woods Senior Residence was completed and opened in September 2001.                                                                                                 

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