When I was a kid, I always looked up to my older cousin Steven. Steven was always the smart one and then
about 25 years ago, he got into the construction biz in New Jersey. Like my grandma would always say, when
she didn't agree with our career moves,, " What's a nice Jewish boy doing in a business like this? He should be a
doctor or a lawyer!!!!"
Well as usual, he proved us all wrong.
Take a look at what he is up to:
Downtown Scotch Plains isn’t exactly a hot spot for renters, but one local builder is trying to change that with his recent opening of a luxury, energy efficient complex right off Park Avenue.
Steve Needle, the president of Needle Point Homes, was the brainchild behind the 12-unit apartment building, located at 549 Park Avenue, just across from Park Middle School.
Called Park Avenue Green, the complex houses one and two-bedroom units that feature all the latest in green technology.
Needle, a Scotch Plains resident himself, has worked as a green builder since 2002, primarily focusing his efforts on designing customized luxury homes in the Westfield-Scotch Plains area.
The apartment building in Scotch Plains is the first of its type that he’s constructed.
“I believe we need to revitalize downtown Scotch Plains,” Needle said of why he decided to build the apartments. “I think it’s a diamond in the rough. It’s got potential that’s unbelievable.”
Needle, who has been working on the project since March, notes that it’s the first New Jersey Energy Star certified apartment building in western Union County. Now complete, all of the units are fully rented, costing on average around $1,600 a month.
The start to building green on the property involved using the existing 4-family home that sat on the site as the apartment complex’s foundation. Needle said it made much more sense to do so than to just tear it down.
“It’s smart growth, to take the property that’s existing and use it to build more units and have more people living downtown,” he said.
Walking through the basement, you can see hints of that older home. But as you step through the main door onto the first floor of the complex, you quickly see that the building features all you’d expect from a brand-new luxury property. A top-of-the-line video intercom system greets visitors, allowing tenants to see images of who’s outside before letting them in. Carpeting partially made up of post-consumer content lines the hallway and an elevator is just off to the left.
Inside the apartments, one will find all-wood 42-inch cabinets, granite counter tops and a pullout faucet in the kitchen area. The walls have rounded corners and wide moldings along the bottom. Nine-foot ceilings are throughout.
“This is something like you’d find in a custom house,” Needle said, pointing to a window in the walk-in bedroom closet as one example.
But it’s the qualities that lie beyond these luxury features that Needle is particularly proud of. All of the appliances in each unit are stainless steel-Energy Star certified. Light bulbs are compact florescent and 12 watts versus the typical 75. All duct work is sealed with mastic.
“That’s so you don’t have leakage in the duct work, which means you can have a smaller furnace and be more efficient,” Needle said. “ The whole place was designed to be very energy efficient and reduce usage of utilities by 30 or 40 percent.”
No utilities are included in the cost of rent, but Needle says that was a conscious choice that gives the renter the incentive to use less resources to keep costs down.
“You give the tenant control over what they use and spend,” he said.
Needle acknowledged that he thinks it’s the luxury features that mainly attract people to the apartments and to his homes for sale, not the green technology. But he builds green, he says, because he feels it’s the responsible thing to do, both for his children and for everyone in future generations.
“As people, we have to think about how to conserve our natural resources,” Needle said. “If we build green, we can save all of us collectively a huge amount. If I don’t do it, who’s going to?”
The outside of the apartment complex is just as environmentally conscious. The parking lot behind the building was built to have perveous pavement, allowing three feet of storm water to seep beneath it and stay on the property rather than running off elsewhere. There’s also a recycling center on site for tenants. Needle noted that he tried to be very careful to leave as many trees on the property as possible. The only grassy area is in the front of the building, with the rest of the property made up of wood chips and mulch.
Needle acknowledges that building green does sometimes mean spending more to build, but he says the savings it ultimately provides to the tenants and to the environment in the long run make it worth it for him.
“It’s not always about the price,” he said. “It’s about quality.”
Needle Point Homes / The Point at Morristown
Custom "GREEN" Builder
212B Lenox Ave, Westfield, NJ 07090