NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Local officials, friends and family members of builders and others gathered for a ceremony to unveil an apartment building at 191 Hamilton St. on Wednesday.
In some ways, it was like a ribbon-cutting for the rebirth of a neighborhood.
On a stretch of street where Rutgers University students live next door to professionals from the city's health care industry, who live next door to New York commuters who want to be within walking distance to the train station, this tan siding and red brick facade building represents the first new housing construction in decades.
And if Premier Properties has anything to say about, there will be more to come.
Mitchell Broder and Laszlo Salamon, partners in Premier Properties, revealed there are plans to construct at least one more apartment building nearby. They're hoping other developers follow their lead.
Broder said bringing new development to this part of New Brunswick has been his vision going all the way back to when he was a Rutgers student in the 1980s living into a "decrepit" apartment with a couple of buddies. He saw the need, even back then, for new construction.
"The best part was to be able to make a real change on Hamilton Street," he said. "Hamilton Street to Easton Avenue to the Somerset (Franklin Township) border, there's been no new development for as long as we've been in business, 25 years. This is making a statement and we think it will trigger things for the better."
Broder was standing inside one of the bedrooms of the model apartment on Wednesday, sipping a beer.
This is one of 39 units that feature the type of amenities today's modern professionals are searching for: stainless steel appliances, marble countertops, garage parking, indoor elevators, a gym and a lounge.
The vision for this started decades ago, but the plan was put in motion about 10 years ago. He said he and his colleagues at Premier Properties acquired a foreclosed property that had a large garage and a warehouse in the back. Soon, a neighboring property came for sale, so they snapped it up. Then they bought another. Before they knew it, they owned a sizable chunk of the street.
Broder set out to build on the stretch of Hamilton, with the help of his partner, Laszlo Salamon.
Salamon's story of an immigrant who makes it big couldn't be more different than the local-boy-done-good Broder.
Salamon came from Austria in 1968 with little more than a dream. He spent two years in school studying to learn English. He took a job in a factory. He remembers struggling to scrape together 25 cents to buy milk for the family.
He said he and Broder aren't just business partners committed to bringing new building to New Brunswick, they're good friends. When they inevitably disagree, they talk things out.
Salamon brings a wisened eye to the partnership. His experience helped them maximize the lot space.
"We did a lot of buildings together with him," Salamon said. "Even the first building was tight because there was no room on the left or to the right, but what we had was the vision to go up. So, this here, it's very important the size of the lot. That's what I learned through experience. Look at the location, the size and what you could do."