Their names are Maria Yglesias and Maria Del Mar Lopez, but to people in the industry, the dynamic duo and principles of Newark-based M & M Development are known simply as “The Marias”. Both immigrants from Spain, the Marias founded M & M in 1997 with the belief that a home is much more than four walls and a roof. The two were committed to creating affordable housing which could improve urban neighborhoods and the lives of the people in those communities. M & M Development and Newark Mayor Luis Quintana led a ribbon cutting ceremony for Harmony Square, a $10.2 million development in the city’s Central Ward and North Ward border that combines market-rate condominiums with affordable housing. More importantly it is it symbolizes the return of the buyers market in Newark. Up to this opening most of the development in Newark, specifically the downtown, has been rental units, much has been due to the lending industry withdrawing out of the mortgage market. This is a sign that the soft purchasing market is beginning to rebound.
Dan Jennings, The deputy Mayor, and Director of Economic Development for the City of Newark, said, “This is a great achievement, in the worst real estate market, tough economy, M&M Development didn’t buy into the conventional wisdom, negative stereo-type about Newark but rather envisioned what Newark could be an executed that dream. In addition, to their tenacity and determination a group of partners, elected officials, state agencies that also defied conventional wisdom and joined in on this vision. And finally you had buyers that defied the conventional wisdom, and saw this location as a great investment, and as great value. Thank you buyers”.
With its beautiful mosaic tile design in the lobby, depicting the flow and movement of jazz (image of Mikes Davis), the entry and public spaces are adorn with images and memorabilia of an entertainment age gone by. The condo, called Condominiums@Harmony Square, includes two main developments, including 24 new condominium homes. The rental building, Apartments@Harmony Square, across the street, includes the rehabilitation of a 16-unit rental building with 10 units set aside for supportive housing, for domestic violence survivors and homeless residents looking for a stable residence. Additionally, M&M is completing
The prices of the units ranged from a 740 square foot, 1 bedroom with 1 bathroom (listed affordable) priced at $80,000 to the largest unit a 1,550 square foot, 3 Bedroom, with 2 bathroom priced at $270,800.
Developer Maria Yglesias, co-founder of M & M, said the project was converted into a mixed-use development from its original plan as a rental building, due to problems in the financing market. She then described the buyers, “This project was 24 condominiums, they are all sold, twenty people are already living in the building, and the townhouses across the street, and four Individuals are in the process of closing. Now you might be wondering who are these people. Approximately 60 percent are from with in the state, Passaic, Union, Irvington, and Bloomfield, and 30 percent from the surrounding neighborhood, and 10 percent commuter from New York”.
The project, located at 103 Broad Street, was financed with a combination of public funds and private lender financing. Additional financing comes from several state and local agencies, including $1.7 million from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
Units for low- to moderate-income residents will cost between $75,000 and $175,000 and market-rate units will start at $151,000. Homebuyers will be eligible for 15-year tax abatements and buyers of the project’s two duplex units will be eligible for five-year abatements.
In addition to receiving funds from the New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency, Essex County Home Funds, and City of Newark Home Funds, M & M Development was also the recipient of a $100,000 loan from the Brick City Development Corporation Bonding Assistance Fund. Under that agreement, M & M Development will provide subcontracting opportunities for qualifying minority- and female-owned Newark-based firms as well as paid apprenticeship/mentoring for start-up Newark-based firms that need projects to build their work experience.
M & M’s numerous developments in Newark, including their award-winning affordable rental project in the South Ward, Villa Esperanza, are a testament to their commitment and success. M & M’s buildings have become a beacon in the community and have raised the bar for future affordable housing projects, they have also completed Cathedral Homes in the city’s Central Ward .