Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


Social Profit Center at Mill One

Project Name: Social Profit Center at Mill One

Innovative nonprofit-driven restoration of a sizeable historic building creating affordable mixed-use workspace for local nonprofits and artists; breathing new life into a distressed neighborhood as part of a lively “Arts Corridor”.

Primary Partner Team: Isles, Inc; Hamilton Township; New Jersey Community Capital; US Bancorp Community Development Corporation

Photo credit: Isles, Inc. 

Social Profit Center at Mill One
A Catalyst for Community Connection and Change 

“This is a way to create a spot for organizations that are doing a variety of things that are critical to the community to be able to afford to be here…There’s nothing I can think of that would have a bigger impact on equity than targeting those organizations that are addressing those critical social and environmental needs in that way.” —Isles, Inc. Founder Marty Johnson 

Mill One is a historic landmark with deep community roots. Constructed in 1897 during the height of industrial and manufacturing commercial activity, the complex was once home to a shirt mill in the early 1900s and later used for manufacturing golf bags and luggage. Redevelopment of the property began in 2015, though Trenton-based community development and environmental nonprofit and project partner Isles, Inc. had envisioned the mill’s rehabilitation since purchasing it nearly a decade prior. 

With help from an $8 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation by New Jersey Community Capital and additional supportive funding, the long vacant complex has been transformed into the innovative mixed-use Social Profit Center. Occupying 75,000 square feet, the center provides affordable, below-market rate workspace for diverse nonprofit, art, and environmental organizations—with a focus on minority and women-owned businesses—as well as vocational training and light manufacturing spaces. 

The center is located in the former industrial neighborhood of Bromley in Hamilton Township and is expected to create more than 200 permanent and community-centered jobs. Since 1990, the Bromley community had experienced substantial disinvestment, white flight, increased absentee ownership, and increased concentration of poverty. Mill One’s transformation has breathed new life into the neighborhood, spurring economic investment in neighboring abandoned buildings.  

As part of the collaborative workspace, tenants of the center share amenities like a full-service kitchen, conference room meeting space, and event space. The ability to connect and partner with similar-minded organizations is a draw for tenants and was part of the original vision for the refurbished space, as was connecting with the local community. A rooftop community garden and green amenity space is accessible to the public, and community partners have access to the center’s shared space. 

The center stays true to many of the mill’s striking original architectural features with its high ceilings, massive timber framing, and abundance of natural light. Through a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the center includes a number of environmental mitigation and green infrastructure features to increase climate resiliency and energy efficiency, and to manage stormwater. 

The center is located in a walkable neighborhood along the booming Northeast corridor, easily accessible to US Route 1, Interstate 295, and the commuter rail and bus hubs in Hamilton and Trenton. With its easy access, modern amenities, affordable rents, environmental sustainability, and collaborative community-minded mission, the Social Profit Center at Mill One is truly a model of holistic community investment. 

See all 2020 Smart Growth Awards

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