The Silk Mill Lofts in Union City. — Courtesy: Sun Equity Partners
By Joshua Burd
An investment and development firm has acquired the historic Silk Mill Lofts property in Union City, with plans to spend millions on upgrades in order to boost occupancy at the artist-work complex.
The buyer, Sun Equity Partners, announced this week that it purchased the 125,000-square-foot complex with the intent of improving the work environment for existing tenants. The New York-based firm also hopes to attract new artists and commercial users from Hudson County and the New York area to the property, which occupies a full city block from 39th Street to 40th Street, between John F. Kennedy Boulevard and Bergenline Avenue.
To do so, Sun Equity has initiated a multimillion-dollar capital improvement program to upgrade the exterior, common spaces, building systems and loft-style studios.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
The property is currently 55 percent occupied by practicing artists and creatives involved in visual arts, photography, sculpture, painting, glass works and more, the firm said in a news release. Sun Equity said the complex, which sits in the city’s Union Hill section, has served as an artist refuge since the 1990s.
“The arts have long been an important part of the fabric of Union City and Hudson County, but finding appropriate work space continues to be a struggle,” said Abe Tress, the company’s director of operations. “Silk Mill Lofts’ soaring spaces, large windows, natural light and spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, as well as the historic charm stemming from the brick exteriors and towering smokestacks, provide the perfect ambiance for creative work.
“With some strategic upgrades, the property will anchor the area’s growing arts scene by attracting new tenants from both sides of the river, as well as provide unique loft spaces for office leaseholders.”
Sun Equity Partners has retained Hoboken-based Lee Levine Architects — an expert in space planning and interior and building design, and a specialist in sensitive alterations of landmark and historic structures — to work on the renovation project.
Originally built in 1874 as home to the R. H. Simon Silk Mill, the 1.33-acre property consists of seven brick buildings of varying heights connected by courtyards that are traversed by bridges, walkways and corridors, Sun Equity said. Interiors feature 13- to 16-foot loft ceilings and industrial windows, and the property has freight elevators to accommodate the transfer of large materials and works.