A rendering of 14 Summit, a planned 78-unit apartment building in East Orange by Blue Onyx Cos. — Courtesy: Blue Onyx
By Joshua Burd
Development firm Blue Onyx Cos. has broken ground on a new apartment building in East Orange, expanding its footprint in the city after having revitalized an adjacent property.
The 78-unit project, located at 14 Summit St., will repurpose the site of a large, long-vacant house and an adjoining lot in the municipality’s second ward. In its place will be a five-story building with a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, along with a series of amenities aimed at drawing new renters to the area.
Blue Onyx joined local officials and members of its team on Tuesday to mark the start of the project, which is next to a 75-unit building that the firm purchased in 2014 and subsequently rehabilitated.
“Our existing, neighboring project, ‘18 Summit,’ offers quality, efficient and affordable units to an underserved population,” Blue Onyx CEO Levi Kelman said. “‘14 Summit’ builds off this communal success by catering to a broader consumer base in this very commuter-friendly and walkable area through a thoughtfully curated mix of diverse apartment types. This amenity-driven and inclusive project is designed with the vision to build a more connected community, which is at the heart of our mission.
“As always, we strive to carry out our development projects in a way that strengthens community bonds across New Jersey’s neighborhoods.”
Slated for completion in spring 2023, the building will feature a co-working space, a high-end fitness center, a lounge and two rooftop terraces, among other amenities. It will benefit from a location that is minutes from the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 280, along with its proximity to the city’s Main Street and the East Orange train station.
The project is also part of a growing development pipeline in East Orange that’s now valued at more than $1.5 billion.
“Blue Onyx’s initial ‘18 Summit’ project was a continuation of the standard of excellence that we set for all new construction in the city of East Orange,” Mayor Ted R. Green said. “Their restorative approach maintained the character of the community while giving it a fresh, new look. Their new property at 14 Summit is a great complement to the existing building — a sophisticated, modern housing option for both millennials and baby boomers alike. We are excited about this ongoing partnership and thank Blue Onyx for investing in our city.”
Kelman on Tuesday highlighted a project team for 14 Summit that includes Inglese Architecture & Engineering and March Associates Construction, along with CBRE and a legal team with Sills Cummis & Gross PC. Meantime, the JLL team of Matthew Pizzolato and Thomas E. Didio Jr. sourced construction financing with a regional bank.
The neighboring building, 18 Summit, is fully leased after Blue Onyx completed its redevelopment of the property in 2017. Having acquired it three years earlier, the firm oversaw a gut-renovation and restoration, resulting in modern interiors and a rehabilitated façade.
“Together, our two impressive properties in East Orange will cement the transformation we’ve pioneered in this area, with working families and commuters benefiting greatly from these new living options,” said Adam Schlitt, manager of development at Blue Onyx.
Local officials expected the newest project to have a ripple effect.
“Now that they see this is happening, it brings other people to the community to share in the asset that is East Orange, the access they have to the train station, the access they have to the highways, and it forces the other developers to step up their game as well,” said East Orange Councilman Christopher Awe, who represents the second ward. “So this is how one project can lift a whole community.”