By DUSTIN RACIOPPIcedar-crossing-site

It took a little longer than expected, but the Cedar Crossing affordable housing project is a done deal. Just needs to be built.

The Red Bank Affordable Housing Corporation closed on the property, right, Wednesday, and by this morning, workers started turning soil on the two-acre tract at Catherine, Cedar and River streets.

“The first feeling that came to mind, the emotion, was relief,” said Rev. Terrence K. Porter, pastor of the Pilgrim Baptist Church and head of the borough’s housing corporation.

Porter had anticipated a much earlier closing, but said small details served as stumbling blocks along the way.

“You know, the little details, just like what goes into your house signing, just a little bit more cumbersome,” he said.

Wednesday’s closing means the first phase of the $3.4 million project — to build 20 two- and three-bedroom units — can shift from a plan to reality. Porter anticipates the first phase to be done, with tenants taking ownership, by mid-November, maybe earlier.

“It should move rapidly with the construction,” Porter said. “It should be quicker than the closing was.”

The second and final phase of the project, to build the remaining 16 units, will get started next spring, he said.

The borough purchased the property for $2.3 million back in 2007, mostly through state funding, Porter said.

Seeing the ambitious project to this point has been a long, and at times frustrating, process, but that makes the reward all the sweeter, he said.

“We were able to do it,” Porter said. “Of course, I believe God’s hand was a part of that. That’s why we had to be patient.”