HELMETTA, NJ – The tiny town of Helmetta has been known for its snuff mill, a large brick factory in the center of this Middlesex County community, which closed in 1993 after more than 100 years in business.
The question has been what to do with the factory, ensuring it maintained the historic charm as the flagship building in Helmetta. Enter Kaplan Companies of Highland Park, which has invested $50 million to convert the woefully outdated, shuttered snuff mill into an ultra-chic 200-unit community of rentals with all the amenities. The site at Railroad Avenue and Main Street is now known as the “Lofts at Helmetta.”
As workers were recently putting the final touches on the final phase, a 74-unit development known as “The Mills,” Kaplan officials invited Helmetta Mayor Chris Slavicek for a guided tour. Slavicek grew up in town; his 62-year-old father, Ed, worked in the snuff mill until its final days.
“These lofts are tremendous for the town; it is absolutely amazing what they have done,” Slavicek said, noting the borough’s tax assessor reported an increase in the overall assessed value of residential property since the “Lofts at Helmetta” began accepting residents in its first phase. “This is a beautiful project, a 100 percent win-win. It brings new vibrancy to Helmetta.”
Jason Kaplan, president of Kaplan Companies, led a tour of the many features of the well-appointed, 3,700-square-foot resident lounge, opened 24 hours a day, which includes plenty of comfortable places for residents to meet, work and play. There is a game room, a gym, a café and a play area for kids, as well as a variety of monthly social programs for residents, such as a wine and art party, a comedy night and a photo booth.
Kaplan also pointed out such amenities as the outdoor heated saltwater pool, the natural gas fire pit, barbeques, a tennis court, two basketball courts, a pavilion and the short walk to Lake Marquerite, where there are nature trails and kayaking.
The community features a main structure, “The Helme Building,” comprising 106 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments, beginning at $1,550 a month. There are also 20, two-bedroom townhouses that are all occupied, at rents beginning at $2295. In April, Kaplan Companies will open “The Mills,” comprising 74 rental units.
During the recent tour, Mayor Slavicek ran into a 30-year resident of Helmetta who recently rented a loft in The Helme Building. Kathleen Nastasi and her English bulldog, Mikey, moved into a two-bedroom unit on the top floor of the six-floor structure.
“I love the layout, I love the apartment and I love living here,” Nastasi told the mayor, giving him a hug. She explained that she still has a house in Helmetta about a half mile away, which her adult children now occupy.
“It’s a lot more fun here,” she admitted. “So you can say I ran away from home. But I’m still in Helmetta.”
Kaplan said his leasing office is renting at a brisk pace, noting that many of the residents appreciate that the Lofts at Helmetta has maintained so many original features of the old snuff plant, is pet friendly and includes free Wi-Fi. Learn more at LoftsAtHelmetta.com