Neighborhood Preservation

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HANDS and Corporate Partners Work Together to Grow Economic Development in Orange NJ

HANDS and Corporate Partners Work Together to Grow Economic Development in Orange NJ

HANDS is pleased to announce receipt of a $1.5 million grant award from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) Program which will support the Heart of Orange Job Training Center and the construction of the Valley Gateway Center. Both projects will work to strengthen neighborhood leadership, community organizing capacity, foster creative businesses, and local arts.  HANDS will develop a vacant, blighted site adjacent to the Highland Avenue NJ Transit commuter rail station with a new 2,800 square foot building to house a Business Incubator for “creative enterprises”. The building, in a park-type setting, will be the Gateway to the Valley Arts District. The grant also supports coaching and assistance to Orange entrepreneurs and supports nonprofits arts organizations in the Valley Arts District.  The new building will augment the Highland Avenue Station rehabilitation underway by the City of Orange.

HANDS will also rehabilitate a long-vacant and deteriorating commercial building, located in the Heart of Orange neighborhood, into a job training center for young adults learning construction trades. In conjunction with YouthBuild Newark, trainees will help rehabilitate the Center building as part of their training and once that is complete, help rehabilitate chronically vacant and deteriorated housing in the neighborhood. “This project is another example of HANDS helping community members plan, shape, and improve their own neighborhood.  It will raise the quality of community life and provide career and education alternatives to local youth.” says HANDS Executive Director, Luther Flurry.

Corporate contributors to these programs are JPMorgan Chase Bank, Valley National Bank and NJ PURE Insurance, Wyndham Worldwide, CURE Insurance, PSE&G, NJM Insurance Group and Solix, Inc.   “Without the vision and commitment of our Corporate Partners and the NRTC Program, these projects could not happen.” says Mr. Flurry.

About the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program:  The NRTC Program provides business entities with a 100% tax credit for funds provided to nonprofit entities carrying out comprehensive revitalization plans. Nonprofit entities may use funds for housing and economic development and supportive services that promote neighborhood revitalization.

Hat City Lofts is a 2016 Smart Growth Award Recipient

Hat City Lofts is a 2016 Smart Growth Award Recipient

Hat City Lofts is a 2016 Smart Growth Award Recipient.
On Thursday, June 9th, HANDS and partners were awarded a 2016 Smart Growth Award from New Jersey Future at a celebration held at the Panasonic Building in Newark. HANDS, along with project partners, Community Asset Preservation Corporation; Community Housing Capital; New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and New Jersey Community Capital were recognized for the transformation of the F. Berg Hat Factory (now known as Hat City Lofts) into affordable condominiums and commercial and artist space, anchoring the Valley Arts District.  The project is scheduled for completion this summer.

The Smart Growth Awards honors organizations and projects that help strengthen New Jersey’s economic, social and environmental future.   Click here (or below icon) to see the accompanying video with project highlights.


Neighborhood Preservation

Neighborhood Preservation

The 7 Core Elements of HANDS’ Strategy
• Redevelopment of pivotal properties in target neighborhoods.
• Increasing home ownership: Investing in first time homebuyers.
• Strengthening neighborhood organizations.
• Developing leadership.
• Increasing effective citizen engagement.
• Forging strategic partnerships.
• Shaping public policy and private sector initiatives.


Upward Momentum is the Key
The neighborhood of Orange and its urban neighbors cycled downward during the 1970s and into the 1990s. Properties were deteriorating, vacant and abandoned. Reversing that downward slide and creating upward momentum required attracting investment and generating hope.

HANDS reasoned that if we could redevelop enough of the “pivotal” eyesore properties, and engage residents and public officials in a campaign to rid neighborhoods of vacant and trouble properties, then momentum would shift and investment would follow.

This work relied on an annual, house by house, block by block survey – creating a List of vacant and deteriorated houses with ownership information, taxes owed and other liens against the property. HANDS successfully cleared title to the worst properties and rehabilitated them for sale to first time buyers. The List was used by community leaders and City Hall to get other properties restored or demolished.

This approach successfully stabilized several neighborhoods, though the recent foreclosure crisis and economic downturn has threatened that successful work.

Neighborhood Anchors Fund

Neighborhood Anchors Fund

The Neighborhood Anchors Fund is an $11+ million source of long-term low-cost, blended financing that will be managed by NJ Community Capital. Structured as a ‘blended capital social investment fund, it can attract a variety of capital providers motivated by both financial and social returns.

It’s four layers of capital each have a different purpose and profile: government agencies who issue long-term senior debt in the form of tax-exempt bonds; subordinated debt in the form of program related investments (PRI) from philanthropic foundations; low cost debt by individual impact investors; and a reserve fund, made up of gifts and grants from charitably-motivated individuals and institutions. Together they provide an affordable, longer term, blended cost of capital of 4.6% that will be used to support high-impact community/economic development in Orange.

Ultimately, the Fund is part of a larger plan to accelerate the catalytic development that will fuel Orange’s renaissance by creating permanent, affordable spaces for 100+ innovators, community builders, and entrepreneurs creating jobs and improving the quality of life; leveraging an additional $250 million in Orange; and serving as a model of community and economic development for other urban communities in New Jersey and across the country.

For more information about The NAF or HANDS please contact us: