CALDWELL – Developer Bob Silver cut a green ribbon to mark the formal opening of Grover House on Saturday, March 16.
The former bank, built in 1915, at 333 Bloomfield Ave. was empty for about eight years before Silver, founder and chief executive of the Bravitas Group of Montclair, added a third floor and renovated the building for offices.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-11, joined Caldwell Mayor John Kelley and council members Frank Rodgers, Jonathan Lace, Henderson Cole, Christine Schmidt and Pasquale Capozzoli as well as West Caldwell Mayor Joseph Tempesta Jr. at the ceremony.
Kelley wore a green tie and leprechaun hat for the occasion. Before the ribbon- cutting, he gave a matching hat to Silver.
The mayor said it is exciting to see Silver doing a similar renovation on another bank, built in 1926, at the other end of the block.
A third floor also will be added to The Wilson, at 307 Bloomfield Ave.
Once it is completed, both of Silver’s properties will light up the downtown, Kelley said.
Grover House is fully leased; tenants include real estate agencies, a yoga studio, a photography studio and a cryotherapy center.
The Wilson, which housed a number of banks until a Valley National Bank branch closed in 2008, is expected to open this fall or next spring.
“What Bravitas has done for our community already is amazing,” Kelley said. “What Bob’s done with the bank building, he came in here with a team of really creative people and turned this into a showplace, and it’s hard to believe when you come in here and you stop and think, ‘We’re in Caldwell.’ ”
Silver said he and Kelley have quickly become friends since Kelley was sworn in as the new Democratic mayor on New Year’s Day.
He said Kelley’s predecessor, Republican Ann Dassing, like all of the borough’s officials, was helpful when his company started considering working on Grover House.
The developer added that he couldn’t be happier with the turnout at the opening and the fact that Kelley and Sherrill attended.
“I do developing in a lot of towns. There’s no town like this one that has made me feel welcome, made my team feel welcome and embrace what we’re doing, so it’s kind of humbling,” Silver said.
Bravitas kept many aspects of Grover House’s original structure and incorporated them into the new design.
For example, the original bank vault on the first floor now houses a yoga studio, which opened in November.
Inner Vault Wellness, which teaches Eastern medical practices, including yoga, tai chi and reiki, is named for its physical location. Owner Sonja Gray said it’s also a play on words as her company wants to “help people work on their inner vault,” or achieve inner peace.
Like several other tenants, Inner Vault Wellness hosted an open house during the grand opening.
Bravitas served food and drinks in all the participating office suites.
“So far, business is growing,” Gray said. “The open house has been a lot of fun, a lot of green stuff.”
While Inner Vault Wellness started in Grover House, family real-estate agency Van Der Wende Properties, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, expanded into there, opening its second office on the third floor Friday, March 1. Its original office remains open in Little Falls.
Sales associate Robert Van Der Wende said he heard that about 500 people had visited the office in about two hours Saturday.
“As soon as we walked into this space, we immediately were attracted to what Bob Silver had done to the building, the original architecture and how he maintained those details throughout,” Van Der Wende said.
Another real-estate agency, IRC Associates, moved from its Little Falls location Feb. 1.
“As a tenant, this place is amazing,” said salesman Rey Mercado. “You shoot him (Silver) an email, the door squeaks, he takes care of it. The door’s not closing, he takes care of it.”
Beyond Cryotherapy seeks to heal people by immersing their bodies in a minus-244-degree tube for three minutes as they look at a view of downtown Caldwell from the third floor.
Administrator Mari Milani said, “You feel like a rock star” when leaving the chamber.
The company uses other therapeutic remedies, including an infrared sauna.
“We couldn’t ask for anything more,” Milani said. “Bob’s 100 percent. He hand-held us basically throughout the whole process, and with our architect, they were just 100 percent hands-on. He’s a wonderful guy to work with.”
Rodgers said the Grover House opening is important to the community.
“This is a big step in the right direction, the vision of what we want the downtown to be like,” he said. “And there’s a building two doors down, which I hear is going to be just as nice, if not better than this one.”
Schmidt said the fact that The Wilson is almost filled shows that businesses want to come to Caldwell.
“I agree it’s a step in the right direction, and I’m hoping it’s a turning point for our downtown,” she said.
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