Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award Finalist: Chambers Lofts

Location: Trenton, New Jersey
Developer: Daniel R. Brenna, Jr.
Partners: Ajax Management ; David Moos and Sergio Coscia of Coscia Moos Architecture
Website: http://www.chamberslofts.com/

Chambers Lofts is an adaptive reuse project in Trenton, New Jersey which leveraged an existing industrial building, the American Cigar Company factory, to create 64 units of mixed-income housing. It was first built by the American Cigar Company in 1902, and served as an economic catalyst for the neighborhood during the golden era of Cuban tobacco manufacturing. A mostly immigrant Italian community grew around the factory’s steady employment opportunities, and workers lived in the surrounding row homes and patronized the neighborhood’s shops. Suburban migration, the Cuban Embargo, and general decline of American manufacturing which characterized the post-war era reversed this growth and prosperity. The factory closed in 1967, and the surrounding neighborhood deteriorated. Chambers Lofts has been acknowledged buy the National Register of Historic Buildings, and has contributed tax credits to the project and added it to their registry. To pay homage to the building and broader neighborhood’s industrial heritage, the two apartment buildings are replete with historical, refurbished design elements such as a freight elevator vestibule and original wooden floors and beams.

Chambers Lofts was the first multi-family project in Trenton built since 1988 without Low-Income Housing Tax Credits or public financing, proving that adaptive reuse is a viable development model in this area and leading the way for other developers. The project utilized the Historic Tax Credit program, and was funded by a consortium of seven statewide banks interested in funding affordable urban housing projects. More than half of the 64 apartment units are reserved for families with incomes below 50% of AMI for a period of 15 years, with remaining units renting at market rates.

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