TRENTON ARCHITECTURE/PLANNING FIRM USES STATE FINANCING TO RENOVATE HISTORIC MASONIC TEMPLE FOR CORPORATE OFFICES
Trenton, N.J. (Dec. 10, 2008) – After remaining unfinished for more than 80 years, the third floor of the historic Trenton Masonic Temple is being renovated and improved for use as the new headquarters for the same architecture and planning firm that is overseeing the rest of the building’s restoration and rehabilitation.
Clarke Caton Hintz (CCH) is completing the nearly $3.5-million third-floor renovation project for its new main offices at 100 Barrack St. in the heart of the State House Historic District after exploring various options for expanding and relocating its business.
“Urban revitalization is a critical element of our strategy to ensure New Jersey’s economic strength,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) Chief Executive Officer Caren S. Franzini at today’s unveiling of the CCH facilities. “The firm’s decision to move into the Masonic Temple will keep a successful local company and important jobs in our state’s capital city as it preserves an historically significant building. It’s a great example of Trenton’s past melding with its bright future.”
CCH is making the transition with the help of a $1.5-million loan from the EDA’s Urban Plus program. The low-interest loan is part of a financing package that also includes funding from The Bank of Princeton and the state’s Urban Enterprise Zone Program.
“Urban Plus was specifically created to support Governor Corzine’s strategic economic development focus on nine key urban centers in New Jersey, including Trenton,” Franzini said. “This Masonic Temple project is a big step forward for Clarke Caton Hintz and the city.”
CCH, which is currently located in West Trenton, has signed a lease to occupy the approximately 14,500 square feet of third-floor space and anticipates relocating its nearly 40 employees to the Masonic Temple in June 2009. The firm expects to create 10 new jobs within two years.
CCH had outgrown its West Trenton facility and became aware of the available space at the Masonic Temple and its adaptability potential for new offices during the process of preparing New Jersey Historic Trust grant applications associated with the building’s renewal, said John D.S. Hatch, AIA, a CCH partner managing the project.
As CCH continued to work with the Masons on the long-term stabilization and renovation of the building, the third-floor relocation seemed more and more intriguing, he said.
“The move will allow for better communication and interaction among our various disciplines,” Hatch said. “So much of our work is about urban revitalization, smart growth and sustainable design. These are all perfectly embodied in this project. This project is a wonderful expression of what Clarke Caton Hintz is all about.”
CCH has an extensive portfolio of work in urban design and community development throughout New Jersey, including the planning of large-scale, mixed-use projects in the urban communities of Trenton, Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City, Plainfield and Atlantic City. It was responsible for the renovation and expansion of the Roebling Mansion at 222 W. State St., which now serves as the home of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, as well as the multi-phase redevelopment plan for the 40-acre Roebling complex, both in Trenton. The EDA provided nearly $1.4 million in financing to support the League headquarters project.
Hatch says the EDA loan was critical to advancing the transformation of the Masonic Temple’s uppermost floor. “We needed to find financing that was as cost-effective as possible. We had done work with the EDA before, so we looked to see what EDA product would be the best fit for us,” Hatch says. “Urban Plus worked.”
The EDA loan is being used to pay off a portion of a Bank of Princeton construction loan, which closed Sept. 5, and will be finalized after a certificate of occupancy is issued. The interest rate on the EDA loan will be fixed at closing at one-half of the Federal Discount Rate with a floor of 2 percent for the first five years of a 10-year term. The balance of the construction loan then will be converted to a permanent loan on the bank’s books.
The Urban Plus program provides financing up to $5 million for small, woman-owned or minority-owned businesses, manufacturers, redevelopers and nonprofit organizations in nine targeted municipalities that also include Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick and Paterson. Eligible borrowers must have the support of the municipality in which their project is located and possess fixed-asset collateral such as real estate or equipment. Funding provided by the EDA must be used to create or maintain jobs, increase ratables or leverage public financing by a ratio at least 1:1.
CCH’s new offices have been designed to meet certification standards established under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for commercial interiors. The designation is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders, which administers the national ratings for high-performance, sustainable buildings.
The design for its new facility takes advantage of the extraordinary spatial and material qualities of the third floor, Hatch says. Steel trusses supporting the roof are being exposed and new skylight openings have been added. Most of the large, open spaces remain unobstructed, providing drafting and work spaces for the architects and planners. Enclosed offices and meeting rooms are located along the perimeter, enclosed with a glass partition system that continues to allow light into the center.
The mezzanine is expanded and houses the library, additional drafting space and a staff meeting area. The concrete columns remain exposed, along with some of the brick exterior walls, providing a satisfying contrast with the new, modern materials and systems, CCH says.
The Trenton Masonic Temple was originally constructed in 1927, the same year that Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris, the Holland Tunnel opened under the Hudson River to connect New York and New Jersey, and Babe Ruth set a single-season Major League Baseball record by hitting 60 home runs. It is the last of the impressive lodges in the state still used by the Masons. The Grand Lodge of Masons in Burlington City acquired the Neo-Classical limestone building in 2004.
A $750,000 grant from the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund was awarded to the Masons to help pay for the structure’s exterior restoration, interior rehabilitation and repair, and accessibility improvements that were recommended in a preservation plan that was funded by the Trust in 2002. This work is largely completed, and the first two floors of the building are now available for public meetings and conferences.
To learn more about EDA products and services to assist redevelopment projects, contact EDA Customer Care at CustomerCare@njeda.com or (609) 777-4898. For more information about doing business in New Jersey, visit www.NewJerseyBusiness.gov.
The EDA is a state financing and development agency that works to promote economic growth, job creation and the revitalization of New Jersey’s communities with financing assistance, technical support and real estate development activities.