ORANGE, NJ, – Development partners Ironstate Development Company and The Alpert Group recently joined officials from the City of Orange, the Township of West Orange and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) to celebrate the groundbreaking of Harvard Printing, a new rental community near NJ TRANSIT’s Highland Avenue train station that will deliver 128 residences and a renewed vitality to the Valley neighborhood of Orange, just steps from the West Orange border.
The Harvard Printing project includes both the construction of a four-story building that will house 70 affordable rental units and 58 market rate rental units, and the adaptive reuse of a historic art deco building that will be crafted into a 160-car parking deck. The residential building will offer 99 one-bedroom residences, 21 two-bedroom apartments and 8 three-bedroom residences. Its construction ties into revitalization initiatives shared by both Orange and West Orange, including the beautification of the East Branch of the Rahway River, the advancement of the Central Valley Redevelopment Plan, and the creation of a vibrant, mixed-use residential neighborhood and arts district in the Valley neighborhood.
“Looking at the Valley neighborhood, and Orange and West Orange, it reminds us a lot of Morristown and Long Branch and some of the other towns in New Jersey we’ve been able to invest in and bring new life to,” said David Barry, president of Hoboken-based Ironstate Development Company. “Morristown had a history of some disinvestment in the downtown area. Long Branch was similar. Now those two communities are thriving, and we see some of that same potential here. We have a train station and a core of stores and shops, and walkability, so we are really excited to be a part of this project going forward.”
Harvard Printing will be located at 550 Central Avenue in the City of Orange. Monthly rental rates will range from $818 to $1,096 for the affordable units, and $1,215 to $1,665 for the market rate units. Each apartment will include modern kitchens, Energy Star appliances, window blinds, and one free parking space. Community amenities will include elevators, common laundry facilities, community room space, security, and offices for on-site property management and social service functions. It is designed to provide a safe, secure, affordable and exciting new residential option in the City of Orange.
“This community is a fantastic example of a well-planned revitalization project that will bolster the City of Orange’s mission of ‘Moving Orange Forward,’” said HMFA Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta. “I have no doubt that Harvard Printing will provide its new residents with all the economic, social, and cultural resources that make living in the vibrant City of Orange an exciting and enriching experience. The city’s diverse population and business-friendly climate sets the tone for a highly successful comeback for an area that was once known as the ‘hat manufacturing capital of the world.’”
Joseph Alpert, president of The Alpert Group, said he immediately saw the potential of the 2.5-acre site Harvard Printing is being built on when he was first introduced to the property in 2006. He’s been looking forward to breaking ground on the project ever since.
“By 2008, we had forged a partnership with Ironstate and acquired the property. We were moving pretty quickly to finalize our development plans when we were derailed by the Great Recession,” Mr. Alpert said. “Over the next nine years we spent countless hours working with Sharon Levy and the team at Monarch Housing and New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA) Executive Director Leslie Anderson on alternatives for development proposals. And finally, last year we received the approval we needed from the HMFA.”
Harvard Printing’s location just steps from the Highland Avenue station on NJ TRANSIT’s Morris & Essex line will be a major convenience for future residents. The station offers about a 15-minute commute to Newark and 40-minute commute to Manhattan, via transfer.
West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said he believes the buildings on Central Avenue that Harvard Printing is replacing and repurposing, respectively, have been abandoned since he was a kid. Today, the project is a source of inspiration for local residents and new businesses thinking of opening a location in either Orange or West Orange.
“There have been any number of people over the years who have talked about investing in the Valley or moving their business into the Valley, and one of the first things we tell them is there is a big project coming that is going to spur a lot of economic development and bring in a new group of residents,” Mayor Parisi said. “We have been hugely supportive of this project and we hope to have one of these groundbreakings on our side of this property very soon.”