SOMERVILLE, NJ - The owners of Parc Apartments, who suffered a $16 million loss three weeks ago when one of their two buildings was gutted by a four-alarm fire - just weeks short of being rented - presented a check for $18,000 Wednesday to Somerville Fire Chief Brian Iselin, a gift that is an extension of the good will and relationship that has grown between the owners and the borough.
Project Manager Jonathan Klein, speaking on behalf of A&A Somerville owners Abe Strulovich and Issac Markowitz, explained that eighteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew word "chai" which means "life." It is a Jewish custom to give monetary gifts in increments of 18, symbolically blessing the recipient of the gift with a good long life and prosperity.
Mazel Tov is a Jewish phrase expressing congratulations or wishing someone good luck.
The owners said their gift was a way to say thanks to the borough's volunteer firefighters for their efforts in keeping the Aug. 21 fire from spreading to a second building on the property.
“We are so grateful to the Somerville Fire Department and surrounding area Fire Departments for responding so quickly,” said Abe Strulovich, one of the owners. “When they expressed to us that they needed better equipment to properly handle mid-rise apartment fires, we knew it was our duty to help them.
"Thanks to their actions fighting the fire in the building that was under construction, they were able to assure that the second building that was moving in its first tenants, was unharmed by the fire," he added. "We are so happy to report that more than 23 residents just moved in and more are on their way.”
Responding to assist Somerville firefighters were volunteer firefighters and apparatus from Bernardsville, Bound Brook, Finderne, Green Knoll, Hillsborough, Liberty Corner, Raritan, Somerset, Warren, Flagtown, East Franklin, Lyons VA, Manville, Middlebush, Montgomery, Peapack-Gladstone and South Bound Brook. Multiple Emergency Medical Services also responded to the scene from Somerville, Martinsville, Green Knoll, Branchburg, Bradley Gardens and Robert Wood Johnson-Barnabas.
No injuries were reported.
Workmen and contractors were inside 200 Parc when the fire was reported at 9:34 a.m. The fire was contained to the attic and roof structure, but water damage was extensive. Firefighters and police helped evacuate tenants from the building next door.
Partner Issac Markowitz said the company will rebuild the structure. The entire attic and roof system was destroyed.
Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson said the prosecutor's office is winding down its investigation in to the cause of the fire.
“We will rebuild,” Markowitz said. “We are committed to Somerville. We came here to help rejuvenate the area and create a luxurious apartment complex for residents to fully enjoy where they live. A place where they can easily commute to wherever they need to and be close to everyday conveniences whether it be shopping, restaurants, parks or schools. It’s all here in a beautifully designed community and location. And, we’re pet- and work-from-home friendly, too.”
Several local officials attended the ceremony in the lobby of 100 Parc Apartments, including Mayor Dennis Sullivan, Councilman Tom Mitchell, Borough Administrator Kevin Sluka, Director of Economic Development Colin Driver and state Sen. Kip Bateman, R-16.
While COVID-19 and the fire may have put a damper on original plans to host a Grand Opening this fall, Klein said “We are not letting that stop us. We plan to host a special "ThankYou" Open House for the first collection this Fall and will officially Grand Open our new building as soon as possible in the spring. We feel it’s a time to celebrate and what better way than to say thank you.”