For close to a decade, the two-story bank at 307 Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell has sat empty, despite its location downtown along one of Essex County’s busiest corridors. The building, which is situated at the corner of Personette Street, used to contain a Valley National Bank location, but has seen little use in the time since the branch was shuttered. However, the days of this centrally located structure sitting empty are coming to an end as construction begins on a major renovation and expansion.
A new mixed-use project by The Bravitas Group of Montclair called The Wilson is coming to the building. Unlike other adaptive reuse developments in some of New Jersey’s cities, this project will not include a residential component. Instead, according to the developer’s website, the building will be expanded vertically by one story and include office space, ground floor retail space, and an art gallery. The first-floor gallery will be made available for local artists while the office suites will be situated on all three floors.
An LLC that is registered out of the same address as The Bravitas Group bought the building for just over $700,000 in April 2018, according to NJ Parcels. Borough records show that Bob Silver of The Bravitas Group told the Caldwell Planning Board in July 2018 that the building dates back to 1924, when it was constructed for the Caldwell National Bank. Over the years, it has also contained locations of NorCrown Bank and the National Newark and Essex Bank.
The project, which is reportedly named for Silver’s father, was approved in October 2018. The venture is expected to be finished by next winter or the spring of 2020, according to The Bravitas Group’s website, which adds that “the renovation will keep the beautiful architectural bones of the exterior intact and create a splendid conference room for tenants’ exclusive use.”
The news of The Wilson comes amid the recent completion of a similar project by the same developer just down the street. The old Citizens National Bank Building was just converted and expanded into the Grover House, which also contains office space, retail space, and a community art gallery. Other former banks throughout the state have also been adaptively reused to house new tenants, including one in nearby Montclair.