Developer completes adaptive reuse of historic Helmetta snuff mill
March 23, 2017
A development firm has unveiled a long-awaited project in the tiny borough of Helmetta, where it has transformed a historic snuff mill building into luxury loft apartments and townhomes.
The firm, the Kaplan Cos., took the wraps off the 200-unit rental community this month after a $50 million adaptive reuse of the local landmark in Middlesex County. The former snuff mill closed in 1993 after more than 100 years in business, leading to more than a decade of efforts to redevelop the red brick complex. The property at Railroad Avenue and Main Street is now anchored by a main structure known as The Helme Building, made up of 106 one- and two-bedroom apartments, according to a news release. Rents for those units start at $1,550 a month.
The project also includes 20 townhouses that are all occupied, with rents beginning at $2295, the news release said. In April, Kaplan will open a 74-unit segment known as The Mills.
The overall project by the Highland Park-based developer is known as the Lofts at Helmetta.
Mayor Chris Slavicek, who recently toured the property, said the lofts are tremendous for the town of a little more than 2,000 residents. He said the borough's tax assessor reported an increase in the overall assessed value of residential property since the first phase of the project opened in 2015.
It is absolutely amazing what they have done, Slavicek said. This is a beautiful project, a 100 percent win-win. It brings new vibrancy to Helmetta. Jason Kaplan, president of Kaplan Companies, said the complex includes a 3,700-square-foot resident lounge that is open 24 hours a day. Renters also have access to a game room, a gym, a cafÃ© and a play area for kids, along with monthly social programs for residents such as a wine and art party, a comedy night and a photo booth.
Other amenities include an outdoor heated saltwater pool, natural gas fire pit and basketball and tennis courts.
The project is more than a decade in the making for Kaplan, which closed on the project in 2006. Published reports say the development faced delays due to litigation over a former age restriction in the zoning and concerns over its impact on the borough's school system.
Once the project broke ground, Kaplan was faced with modernizing a property that was showing its age.
The buildings were definitely a challenge and so were the site improvements, Kaplan told the Home News Tribune in 2015. We put our best guys out there. It's definitely one of the most challenging jobs we've built in a long time.