While walking down South Orange Avenue, residents may notice a brand new sight; a big sign hanging above Investor’s Bank, reading “South Orange Square.”
The sign is the idea of the building’s owner, Stuart Wainberg. When Wainberg, President of WainCo Realty, moved into the building years ago, he was given an old picture of the building. The decades old photo showed a period when the corner of South Orange Avenue and Valley Street was a bustling retail area.
The picture has led Wainberg to make some changes to the building as according to Wainberg, he is putting his “money where (his) mouth is.” Some of the changes he has made are restoring the brick in the building by pulling off the old granite put up over the years. He has also gone back to the concept of awnings that will be complete with hanging signs if the businesses choose to put them up. He topped it off by branding the building as “South Orange Square.”
“We basically peeled everything off the bottom of the building,” said Wainberg. “The concept was to make the whole bottom part (of the building) modern and uniform and to try to expose, remove, “peel back the onion” and go back to the historic, restore, preserve and make the building more dignified.
Wainberg showed these plans to South Orange Village President Alex Torpey and according to Wainberg, Torpey was ecstatic. The feeling is that with the building’s makeover and the renovation of Village Hall, the area will become the nicest in South Orange.
“I think (the sign) is a great example of a property owner being proactive and investing in a way that not only benefits his business, but the entire visual landscape of the downtown,” Torpey told Patch. “The historic elements to it are really wonderful. I posted a picture of it to my Facebook page and got a really positive response from community members.”
The actual sign took almost two years to plan and complete. The sign is basically a metal cabinet with acrylic push through letters. Six bulbs are inside the sign, three sets of two going down the sign. Gold vinyl covers the lettering with the sides etched out so that some light shines through.
“Internally we’ve been calling this building “South Orange Square” ever since Stuart bought it,” said WainCo Associate Jared Hutter.
Hutter explained the reasoning for the name as an overhead view of the area shows that the block is a giant square. He says the goal is to have the area referred to as South Orange Square.
WainCo was presented with a Design Excellence Award by Main Street South Orange (MSSO) at the Feb. 15 Board of Trustees meeting. The award was given to Wainberg for his work on the building.
“We’re hoping that with this renovation and rehab that he’s done, and we’ve already heard evidence of it, that other property will say ‘oh, wow, somebody invested a lot of time and money and a lot of effort into this and my adjacent property can use some updating,’” said MSSO Executive Director Carole Anzalone-Newman as she presented the award to Wainberg.
The sign is just a start to the overall building makeover. The lobby of the building is being redone and reconfigured to be a gallery for local artists. The building’s tenants are working to get awnings and new blade signs, to make everything in the building look uniform.
“We love being in South Orange,” said Wainberg. “We believe as an office user, in the quality of the downtown, which motivated us into putting money into (the building) and making it better.”