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CLIFTON, NJ-The wreckers ball has begun to do its work on the vacant buildings that once made up the Shulton packaging and distribution plant here. The 42-acre tract, where Old Spice and Breck Shampoo products once began their journey to households across the country, will be reborn as a multifamily residential community of 637 townhouse and condo units.

The developer is Town & Country Developers at Clifton North, Inc., which recently bought the site from American Home Products, based in Madison, NJ. The developer is an affiliate of the investment firm, Whiteweld, Barrister & Brown of New York. “This is an opportunity to build something in this market that reflects what the market needs,” says James Bovino, CEO of Town & Country. “Manufacturing has largely left the Northeast, but the demand for housing is still strong. This is dormant land, and we get to build in a market where land is tight.”

According to Joseph DiBernardo, EVP and COO of Town & Country, Cambridge Crossings, as the project is named, will be a gated community. It will take up to three years to complete, with the first ready for occupancy next year. He expects it to attract mostly empty nesters, young singles and couples without children. “Families don’t typically buy in our developments,” according to DiBernardo. The property, which is located at the intersection of Route 46 and the Garden State Parkway, should also prove attractive to people who commute to New York.

Town & Country went to contract on the land back in 1997. In the three years since, city officials reviewed the project and granted necessary approvals, including a zoning change that allows for the site to be redeveloped as residential. As part of the deal, the developer will donate more than $2.5 million to Clifton’s affordable housing fund.

Town & Country is no newcomer to business-to-residential conversions. Currently, another affiliate, Town & Country Developers of Nutley, Inc., is nearing completion of a similar development on land formerly occupied by ITT in Nutley, NJ.

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