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18 NOVEMBER 2020
 The site of an iconic former rug mill complex in Hightstown is rich with history, with origins dating back to the late 1800s. Sadly, though, its most recent years have been marked by a revolving door of developers, whose plans to revive the property have fallen flat.
It’s a cycle that PRC Group hopes to break.
“The skepticism from the people in the area is real and justified,” said Greg Lentine, PRC’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “There’ve been so many false starts, so we’re hoping we can really show them our commitment and get this going.”
The Red Bank-based developer, whose founder has deep ties to the Mercer County borough, is moving ahead with a plan that includes
both ground-up construction and
the adaptive reuse of two large industrial buildings on the site. The result would be a mix of 386 luxury apartments and townhomes along Bank Street, between North Main and North Academy streets, providing a
new infusion of housing just steps from the downtown.
PRC has secured key approvals from the borough’s planning board, advancing further than other developers have. It’s also earned the trust of local leaders who have targeted the site for redevelopment for more than 15 years.
“They really seemed to understand the vision,
architecturally, of what the borough is about and what it wants to become,” said Charles “Lee” Stults,
a councilman and former planning board member.
“Prior projects were a little more modern in their architecture,
which really didn’t fit in with the surrounding neighborhood or the downtown. And PRC and their team really understood and listened to the borough about what they wanted.”
The rug mill property, which spans
about nine acres, is currently home to dilapidated industrial buildings with overgrown vegetation. PRC intends to restore and convert two of the properties — a 101,000-square- foot brick structure and a 50,000-square-foot concrete building — to create a combined 150 loft-style apartments.
At the easternmost end of the site, along Main Street, the developer will construct a new ground-up, 193-
unit multifamily building. The new apartments, along with 43 townhomes on the other end of the property, would likely draw a renter pool that includes commuters to Manhattan.
“You’re only two or three minutes from the New Jersey Turnpike,” said Robert M. Kaye, PRC’s chairman
and CEO. “So in truth, on a typical weekday, the bus can pick you up here and you can be in New York City at the Port Authority in about an hour.”
Such is the promise of the blighted yet historic property, a fixture in the 1.27-square-mile community. According to the Hightstown East
Windsor Historical Society, the site became the home of the Hightstown Rug Company in 1898 and was operational into the 1960s, when
it was sold to United Industrial Syndicate Inc.
The property had other users
and owners in the ensuing years, including McGraw Hill and Philips Lighting Co., but has been vacant since the late 1980s. In recent years, the complex has notoriously attracted developers that would later back out amid clashes with borough officials or poor economic conditions.
“Company after company, person after person would get involved, never cross the finish line and then lose it,” said Kaye, who has his own connection to the town, having attended the nearby Peddie School as a teenager in the early 1950s. He is also an emeritus board member and benefactor of the co-ed boarding school, which is about a mile from the mill complex.
It was about three years ago that he and his team first took note of the beleaguered site.
PRC Group, local officials working to advance long-awaited redevelopment in Hightstown
By Joshua Burd
 Lee Stults
 Plans for PRC Group’s redevelopment in Hightstown include restoring and converting two historic mill buildings — including a 50,000-square-foot concrete structure and an adjacent 101,000-square-foot brick property, both on Bank Street — to create 150 loft-style apartments. The developer also plans to build a new ground-up, 193-unit multifamily building near North Main Street and 43 new townhomes on North Academy Street.
Rendering by Feinberg & Associates P.C./Courtesy: PRC Group

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