MEND and Conifer 2014 NJ Smart Growth Award

Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development (MEND) and its joint venture development partner Conifer Realty, LLC, along with project partners Burlington Township and New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency, have been named a winner of New Jersey Future’s prestigious 2014 Smart Growth Awards for their collective work on Springside School Apartments in Burlington – a project that involved adapting an unused school to provide senior and special-needs residences and services.

The annual Smart Growth Awards competition recognizes leading smart-growth planning and development initiatives in New Jersey. Winners are selected by an independent jury. This year’s Smart Growth Awards dinner ceremony honoring award recipients will be held Thursday, June 5, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Metropolitan Room at the Newark Club in Newark.

“The jury was both gratified and challenged to have a large pool of very high-quality entries to review this year,” said Eileen Swan, policy manager at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and a New Jersey Future trustee, who chaired this year’s selection committee.

Springside School Apartments is a 75-unit apartment community created for low- and moderate-income senior citizens and adults with special needs. Thirty-two apartments are located in the former Springside Elementary School – initially built in 1871 as a one-room schoolhouse known as the Mitchell School at Springside – now designated as a National and State Historic Landmark building. The remaining 43 apartments are located in a new, two-story addition attached to the rear of the former school. Development for the community began in late 2010 and was finished in just three years, from concept through completion. The first tenant moved in mid-November 2013 and the apartments are already 100 percent occupied.

According to Matthew Reilly, President and CEO of MEND, “We’re honored to receive a Smart Growth Award for our collective work on Springside School. Affordable rental housing production is always our primary focus. When we can produce that housing by preserving a 100 year-old community landmark on a site that fully embodies the anti-sprawl, in-fill, smart growth principles that New Jersey Future champions, that is a grand slam homerun for everyone.”

“You can describe the Springside School as a lot of things: historic preservation of a landmark in the community; Smart Growth because of re-purposing an obsolete building; a green project because of the solar electric system and other energy saving features; or a redevelopment project putting a vacant building back to use. Most importantly, it is the creation of 75 affordable homes for Burlington Township seniors,” said Charles M. Lewis, Senior Vice President, Conifer Realty, LLC.

Both MEND and Conifer Realty are prior recipients of a Smart Growth Award. MEND won an award in 2007 for its Creed II housing complex in Moorestown and Conifer won in 2013 for the Whitman Park housing development in Camden.

For more information on New Jersey Future and the Smart Growth Awards event, visit or call (609) 393-0008, ext. 101.