The Bayonne Housing Authority (BHA) continues to move closer to purchasing the current location of the federal Head Start program in the city, located in a historic masonry building at 15-21 W. 8th St. The BHA has already made the city an offer of about $2.1 million for the property and the parking lot behind it at 24 W. 9th St.
Run by the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF), Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from low-income families from birth to age 5 by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. According to its mission statement, Head Start programs aim to provide a learning environment that supports children’s growth in areas such as language, literacy and social and emotional development.
According to Law Director Jay Coffey, once the Head Start program moves to the former Holy Family Academy location at 239 Avenue A, the BHA will move in. Currently, the former Catholic high school is being renovated from top to bottom to accommodate the new Head Start program location while the former convent houses the offices of the BEOF.
The project underwent many trials and tribulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high construction bids and inflation, among other obstacles, before finally awarding a $2.1 million contract in November 2021 and getting things underway. Construction continues, and BEOF Executive Director Samantha Howard told the Bayonne Community News in October that more federal funding is being requested to complete the remaining renovations to the school, largely on the interior. Meanwhile, the funding to renovate the convent to become the BEOF offices is still being sought after.
In accordance with this move, the BEOF is also expected to sell the three locations it operates out of at 555 and 557 Kennedy Blvd. and 7 W. 9th St. to pay off the cost of purchasing the former Holy Family Academy for $2.5 million back in 2017 in order to consolidate the BEOF and relocate Head Start. Coffey said those properties will then likely be sold off for redevelopment to be put back on the city tax rolls.
Purchase sale agreement may be ready by January, officials said
Coffey had previously made mention of the potential sale of the city-owned land at the council’s December caucus meeting a week before its regular meeting that month. Then, at the regular meeting, he said the city has received a letter of intent and appraisal from the BHA.
At the end of the meeting, Coffey introduced an add-on resolution regarding the potential sale that authorizes the negotiations, among other things. The council voted unanimously to approve it.
“I talked to you last week about the potential sale of 15-21 W. 8th St. and 24 W. 9th St. to the Bayonne Housing Authority so they can move their corporate offices there,” Coffey said. “We were provided with a letter of intent and an appraisal by the Bayonne Housing Authority.”
According to Coffey, the resolution states that the proposed purchase price is $2.1 million. He added that the properties in question are of a total assessed value of $1.665 million, meaning the city would profit off the sale.
“This resolution says it would be in the best interest of the city of Bayonne to explore the possibility of selling the subject property to the Bayonne Housing Authority,” Coffey said. “And it authorizes the Law Director to negotiate the terms of purchase sale agreement on behalf of the city of Bayonne with the Bayonne Housing Authority for the property set forth.”
Coffey said that the city and BHA are close to signing a sale purchase agreement. He estimates that may be ready for council approval come January.
“If an agreement to the terms and conditions can be reached to the satisfaction of the administration and the Bayonne Housing Authority to present same to the municipal council for further review and consideration,” Coffey said. “Based on my conversations with the BHA’s attorney, I would think we have a purchase sale agreement ready for the January meeting.”
The council will meet next on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.
The BHA is currently headquartered out of a rented location at 549 Avenue A. The move would be a major upgrade for the BHA from its current setup to a building that is a piece of the city’s history.
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