In suburban South Orange, known for its historic charm, tree-lined streets, vibrant arts culture, and Seton Hall, a slice of urban luxury has arrived for those looking for a picture-perfect village lifestyle yet who love to be wrapped in effortless upscale beauty. Just steps from rail service and 30 minutes to NYC, The Mignote is South Orange’s first truly boutique luxe residential development — posh, convenient, and exclusive to just eight units. The Mignote on Second wasn’t simply conceived as a housing effort for the town, however. The building is a love letter to family, South Orange itself, and a symbol of perseverance for Yayine Melaku.
A first-generation American, born to Ethiopian parents, Yayine Melaku and her development company, The Y Group, LLC, overcame insurmountable struggles to see her vision for the building become reality. As an African-American woman in the largely male-led real estate development industry, Yayine needed determination and undeniable talent to bring The Mignote to life. Regardless of the obstacles, however, The Mignote opened in August 2021, and today, Yayine is celebrated as the first woman and first African-American mixed-use developer in South Orange.
Having grown up in South Orange since the age of nine, Yayine remembers sledding down Floods Hill, frequenting the Public Library, enjoying Fourth of July fireworks, and graduating from Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. Though she then launched her career in the financial sector, she soon reached back to her family’s roots in real estate, and, culminating with The Mignote, honored the lessons she learned from her parents — utilizing faith, skill, and dedication to give back to a community she’s long called home.
“From the age of twelve, I spent summers painting, removing old tiles, and cleaning real estate projects with my parents,” Yayine remembered.
The Mignote — the name meaning My Wish — is 15,000 square feet of proof that hard work and an eye for detail can bring quality of living, joy, and pride not only to those who’ve worked to build this boutique luxury residence but for the residents themselves. The mixed-use complex is designed with style from the mailroom, hallways, and elevator lobby. Sophisticated with posh finishes, the four single and four duplex apartments are refined with the kind of idyllic polish you’d find in an ultra-luxe Hoboken high-rise.
Floor plans of 1,200 square feet to over 2,000 square feet include luminous open spaces with cloud-colored walls, endless windows, and soaring ceilings allowing sunlight to spill onto spectacular glass fixtures, fine millwork, modern hardware, and European Oak engineered floors. Spanish matte cabinetry, Viking appliances, and Calacatta Quartz countertops assist with applause-worthy meals, while the airy great rooms will inspire conversation and a bit of envy. Generously sized bedrooms partner with bathrooms designed as spa-like sanctuaries as rain showers and Porcelanosa soaking tubs soothe. The building infuses design notes from Yayine’s travels to Africa, Europe, and Asia, while residents enjoy smart features, garage parking, intercom, and the ambiance of optional Sonos speakers. In select units, residents can push back folding panoramic doors to reveal fresh breezes and views.
Yayine remarked, “I deeply feel the significance of choosing to live at The Mignote. I hope all who chose to reside here feel welcome and adore their home, while enjoying the excitement and charm of South Orange, as I did.”
With contracts in place since before the building opened in August 2021, The Mignote is sure to be a keystone of upscale living within South Orange.