In a former industrial hub in New Jersey, once vacant factories are being adapted into arts-related housing and facilities. The change is part of a strategic plan for the Valley neighborhood bordering Orange and West Orange that uses the arts to drive revitalization.
The plan stems from a three-year community engagement process led by HANDS, Inc., a non-profit community development organization that has worked to strengthen neighborhoods in the Oranges for more than 22 years. Known as the Valley Arts Initiative, the plan aims to create a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly urban arts village.
In 2008, TRF provided HANDS with New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing to convert four highly-visible properties, each with a historic past, into community space for the arts. For example, the abandoned Bakery Company property was once the landmark Coquelle’s Bakery and the vacant New Morning Company was formerly a popular Italian restaurant.
The renovation will result in new arts and performing arts facilities, retail and education space, a music venue, and residential units. TRF’s NMTC financing offers HANDS, a repeat TRF borrower, long term affordable capital to build off its other efforts already underway in the neighborhood.