Edison Village site, West Orange

WEST ORANGE, NJ-A long-delayed $230 million project to convert Thomas Edison’s historic factory buildings on this township’s Main Street into a residential complex is ready to launch in April.

Prism Capital Partners, which was named redeveloper of the site, has won final approval for the first phase, including creation of 331 apartments, retail space and parking. The financial arrangement with the township includes a payment-in-lieu-of taxes agreement.

Prism was designated as the redeveloper for what is to be called Edison Village back in December 2006. By 2008, the company had completed much of the demolition and site work for the project, described as the largest non-waterfront re-use development in New Jersey.

Then, the housing and financial industry crises occurred, followed by a full-scale recession. On Monday, as Prism announced it will break ground in spring, West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi called the company “faithful and loyal” to his community’s potential.

“Main Street is the heart of West Orange and the most vivid and authentic expression of our history and culture,” said Parisi. “Its redevelopment gives us the opportunity to create an exciting downtown in an area that has been neglected for too long.”

The Thomas Edison Invention Factory and Commerce Center was built by the famed light-bulb creator in 1913, and served as a working industrial center until 1965. Edison employees produced storage batteries used in light delivery vehicles, automobiles, railroad signals, industrial applications and mining equipment there.

Phase I of Edison Village involves total renovation and reconstruction of that facility.

“Since industrial structures of this type are few and far between in suburban New Jersey, Edison Village truly represents a distinctive project,” said Prism’s Edwin Cohen, principal partner. “The design, by Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners, takes advantage of existing architectural features to incorporate ceiling heights ranging from 14 to 16 feet and 10-foot windows that will let in abundant natural light.”

The building’s 331 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom rental apartments will range from 590 to 1,500 square feet. Residents will have access to a private fitness center, swimming pool, personal and bike storage, meeting rooms and doorman service. The project is designed to meet LEED green building certification standards and includes parks and open green spaces on the 21-acre site.

Edison Village’s first phase also includes 18,000 square feet of retail space, which will be built at the corner of Charles Street and along Main Street. Also, a 630-car parking area is part of the first phase.

Phase II will add another 300 housing units, according to Prism.

“Edison Village is contributing significantly to the regeneration of the neighborhood,” said Cohen in reference to the PILOT agreement, which has been controversial. “Its attractive new residences will bolster property values, and the new population in this revitalized area is expected to generate some $10 million of additional local retail spending annually.”

Edison Village will be bounded to the west by the historic Llewellyn Park, said to be the state’s first gated community. The recently refurbished Edison National Historic Site and museum is located adjacent to the property.

Prism, which is based in Bloomfield, is also at work on the adaptive reuse of the 115-year-old former General Electric Company property in that community to create the Parkway Lofts apartments.