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Historic warehouse reborn as apartments
October 5, 2013
Original Article

A massive Bloomfield building, constructed as a warehouse in 1897, is starting a new life as apartments — another example of the state's real estate revival, as well as of the increased reuse of old industrial space.

Prism Capital Partners, a Bloomfield real estate firm formerly based in Englewood, bought the six-story warehouse in 2005. The building, now called Parkway Lofts, overlooks the Garden State Parkway and is a landmark to anyone who's ever driven to the Shore.

The housing and economic downturn slowed Prism's redevelopment plan at the site, which included adding a penthouse floor. But renovation work started in late 2011, and apartments are expected to be available for rent within the next month or two. Rents for the 365 apartments are expected to range from about $1,500 to $3,000.

Although credit has been tight since the financial crisis of 2008, Edwin Cohen, Prism's principal partner, said lenders were willing to finance the project because rentals are "a tremendously strong market." He declined to reveal either the original cost of the building or the cost of the renovation, but said, "The cost to renovate it was more than the cost to purchase it."

"It's easier to build from the ground up than it is to renovate, but this building was such an iconic structure," Cohen said.

Existing tenants

General Electric Co. left the property decades ago, but when Prism bought it, it was about 80 percent full with smaller, light-industrial tenants. So Prism had to buy them out or wait for their leases to end before beginning the renovation. The property is assessed at $5.5 million, according to Bloomfield Township records.

The company also demolished half a dozen smaller buildings on the 14-acre site to make way for 170 town houses that it plans to start building by the end of the year.

The site is near an NJ Transit rail station with direct service to New York's Penn Station, which Prism said would make it attractive to commuters. State planners have encouraged residential development — "transit villages" — near rail stations.

"This project reflects the potential of infill redevelopment in New Jersey," Eugene Diaz, Prism's other principal partner, said in a statement. "We are proud to be part of the growing adaptive reuse movement, which is working to preserve the state's history while setting the stage for its future."

Parkway Lofts is Prism's first major residential project. Prism has bought and renovated a number of office buildings in North Jersey, including properties in Wayne, Totowa, Hackensack, Elmwood Park and Secaucus. It owns about 3.5 million square feet of industrial, office and residential space in the state. It is about to start work on Edison Village, a 21-acre redevelopment in West Orange that includes the renovation of the historic Thomas Edison Battery Building into about 310 residential units.