By Cleve Bryan
RIVERSIDE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — Towering above NJ Transit’s Riverline stands an edifice that changed a Burlington County town all because of delicate little device.
When the Keystone Watch Case company opened the Pavilion Ave building in 1907, Swiss inventor Theophilis Zurbrugg was making Riverside an important industrial town by constructing pocket watches the everyday man could afford.
Since the factory’s closure in the 1950’s the building has fallen into disrepair. Inside are an engineering firm and the Riverside Historical Society’s museum.
“It’s a landmark and Zurbrugg was ahead of his time in employing minorities and women,” says Alice Smith the Historical Society president.
New life could be coming soon to the building and revolutionizing Riverside once again.
A New-York based firm Simshabs Partners submitted an application to redevelop the site into 64 luxury apartments.
Township officials say it could be an economic game changer.
“Outfitting this historical building and essentially revitalizing it would be the catalyst for the rest of the redevelopment and revitalization of the town,” says Riverside Twp administrator Meghan Jack.
Burlington County officials also see the building as a key piece in their plan to convert aging industrial properties for modern use, and attracting new housing along the Riverline train route.
The Township is holding a planning board meeting Tuesday night at 7pm at the Riverside Elementary School where Simshabs is expected to give a detailed presentation and could take questions.
If the apartments go through the museum might have to find a new home.
“I’m all for redevelopment but I’m also all for the preservation of the building because it is on the Historic Register,” says Smith.