Announcing $125,000 investment in New Jersey Community Capital's Creative Placemaking Fund

Posted Sept. 23, 2019

New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation are pleased to announce $125,000 in new support for the Creative Placemaking Fund, a revolving loan fund focused on arts-based projects in distressed communities across the state. 

The Creative Placemaking Fund at NJCC, established three years ago with initial support from the Kresge Foundation, has approved 20 loans totaling $9.6 million to support diverse creative placemaking investments, including art galleries, independent theaters, and large mixed-use developments throughout New Jersey. The low-cost loans have leveraged more than $25 million in additional investments in communities at the intersection of arts, community development, affordable housing, education, and essential community facilities. 

Dodge’s support for the Creative Placemaking Fund is made possible through the Prudential Loan Fund and a partnership with the Community Foundation of New Jersey. 

New Jersey Community Capital is a nonprofit community development financial institution  that provides innovative financing and technical assistance to support sustainable community development ventures that develop and preserve affordable housing, increase jobs, improve educational opportunities, and strengthen neighborhoods to ensure that communities can thrive. 

“Community-based projects that center arts, culture, and heritage support local artists play a major role in building thriving communities, especially communities of color,” said Sharnita C. Johnson, Arts Program Director at the Dodge Foundation. “We are pleased to partner with NJCC to elevate the arts and artists in communities, and also recognize their value as entrepreneurs and small business owners. It’s crucial for the financial and government sectors to support and celebrate these investments that engage residents and others in the arts as viable, economic drivers.”

A growing body of research finds that successful creative placemaking projects take a comprehensive community development approach through the creative economy by moving artists and community development partners away from a “siloed” approach and create cross-sector partnerships that drive innovative approaches to create sustainable, inclusive, and resilient places.

“The creative economy is a powerful driver of community revitalization and socioeconomic development in low-income communities,” said Wayne Meyer, President at NJCC. “The Creative Placemaking Fund was designed to unlock and enable place-based investments that integrate arts and culture into holistic neighborhood revitalization activities, in underserved communities with higher concentrations of poverty. Alongside our partners at the Dodge Foundation and Prudential, we feel that our track record and the lessons learned along the way will enable NJCC to further expand and refine the Creative Placemaking Fund and ensure even greater success and impact.”

In addition to financing directly from the Creative Placemaking Fund, New Jersey Community Capital has also allocated more than $23.2 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investments to support arts-based projects and the creative economy. Collectively, Creative Placemaking Fund loans and New Markets Tax Credit investments have created or preserved more than 210,000 square feet of commercial space, over 500 jobs, and 46 affordable housing units. For reference, recent loans awarded through the Creative Placemaking Fund and NMTC investments are outlined below.

“As we continue to grow our Creative Placemaking Fund loan portfolio, we seek to integrate our efforts to holistically stabilize communities at a catalytic scale,” said Marie Mascherin, Chief Operating Officer at NJCC. “We complement Creative Placemaking Fund lending with other interventions, including New Markets Tax Credit investments and our Lending team’s high-touch technical assistance for borrowers, in particular, to work with borrowers to integrate arts and culture into broader revitalization activities.”

Recent loans awarded through the Creative Placemaking Fund and NMTC investments include:

  • $1.57 million loan to HANDS, a nonprofit community development corporation in Orange, to support the preservation and redevelopment of at least seven scattered-site arts projects in Orange. The separate sites include a theater with three art studios; restaurant/music venue; production studio; mixed-use building with eight live-work artist spaces and arts retail and program space; building holding a hydroponic greenhouse and architectural firm; and separate facility holding a youth arts organization and artisan production/retail space.
  • $695,000 loan to support the preservation and expansion of a commercial facility in the arts-oriented downtown neighborhood of Asbury Park. The facility will include a co-working and event/community space for technology startups and a local café.
  • $6.75 million New Market Tax Credits investment to finance the Cumberland County College Arts and Innovation Center (CCCAIC) in Millville, a project that has become a centerpiece and economic engine for Millville’s Glasstown Arts District and surrounding region. 
  • $135,000 loan to the Holly City Development Corporation to support the development of the Glasstown Creative Enterprise Center in Millville, an arts-based business incubator and studio space that will supplement the Cumberland County College Arts and Innovation Center and support revitalization of the Glasstown Arts District into a regional destination.

For more information regarding Creative Placemaking Fund and the loan application process, prospective borrowers and other interested parties can contact Leah Apgar, Managing Director of Lending, at lapgar(at)njclf(dot)com; or 732-640-2061.