A historic Mercer County complex that millions of Amtrak riders and passengers on New Jersey Transit’s Northeast Corridor Line pass by annually is undergoing a major adaptive reuse project that will transform it into a hub for local residents, artists, and non-profit organizations.
Trenton-based non-profit Isles, Inc. and Daniel Popkin’s Modern Recycled Spaces are in the process of converting most of a century-old sprawling industrial facility just outside the city limits at 1 North Johnston Avenue in Hamilton Township’s Bromley neighborhood into a mixed-use community known as Mill One. The project is named for the building’s previous uses as a textile mill used by companies such as F.A. Straus & Co. and Atlantic Products Corporation to create items such as shirts, luggage bags, and golf bags. In fact, several of the products manufactured in the building are currently on display inside, and a ‘ghost sign’ reading ‘F.A. Straus & Co.’ remains inscribed on the side of the building facing the train tracks.
This is one of the oldest buildings in the area, with the clock tower wing of the building dating back to the end of the 19th century. Other additions were made in the first few decades of the 20th century, including creating a spur from the neighboring railroad tracks into the complex. The property gained attention in 1913 when there was a labor strike by children who worked for F.A. Straus & Co. that lasted for over two months.
This project has been in the works for nearly a decade. Construction has been underway at the site since 2015 in order to convert it into uses such as a Social Profit Center, space for local artists, 30 to 45 market rate and designated ‘affordable’ residential rental units, a rooftop training space, a commercial kitchen, and training facility, Isles’ new headquarters, and a possible artist live/work space. David Schrayer of Isles recently gave Jersey Digs a tour of Mill One to show us the status of the project, which is expected to be completed around October 2018.
”The hope is to have this be an economic engine for the neighborhood,” said Schrayer, adding that ”we hope that by our bringing investment into this project, that will spur other economic investment in the surrounding residential areas.”
In addition to Isles, other non-profit organizations, institutions, and environmentally oriented for-profit companies will operate throughout the building. For instance, Literacy New Jersey, the Trenton Digital Initiative, and a research team from nearby Princeton University will occupy office space on the first floor, and the Ewing Township-based Work Environment Council could take one of the four office bays on the third floor, according to Schrayer.
”By bringing a lot of non-profits here, we’re bringing those people closer to their service area and to their clientele,” he explained.
Although members of the public will have far more frequent access to the building once it is completed, there have been efforts made to welcome community members inside to see the progress. Schrayer told Jersey Digs that there have been several open houses for local residents, and a Fall Fest fundraiser was recently held inside.