Renovation of the Thorn Flats and Lehigh Flats apartment complexes is nearing completion, marking their conversion from mostly student housing to market-rate apartments.

Company and city officials gathered Sept. 15 to cut the ribbon on the renovated apartment complexes on Thorn Lane and Lehigh Road.

“You’ve set a standard for apartment living in Newark that I think is just about unparalleled at this point,” Mayor Jerry Clifton told company leaders. “I can’t thank you enough for your investment in Newark and for the work that you’re doing to house Newark residents.”

Formerly known as Studio Green and Park Place Apartments, the complexes were purchased in 2019 by the Galman Group for a combined price of $41 million. At the time, the apartments were in foreclosure and 75 percent vacant.

Based in Jenkintown, Pa., Galman manages 6,000 apartment units in the Delaware Valley, including Cooper’s Place near Brookside and Buckingham Place Townhomes off Old Baltimore Pike.

The $30 million renovation project included redesigned floor plans, new bathrooms, and updated flooring, cabinetry, fixtures and appliances. Galman also upgraded the clubhouse, which now includes a movie theater, pool, game room, business center, demonstration kitchen and pet spa.

The work has been done building-by-building and is expected to be completed by the end of October. The two complexes have a combined 700 units.

While Studio Green and Park Place were largely marketed toward students – the past owner was Campus Living Villages, which runs student housing complexes across the country and internationally – Galman is targeting employees at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus, professors, young professionals and others.

Unlike other developers who have made similar promises and then pivoted to target students, Thorn Flats and Lehigh Flats are only 30 percent students right now, Galman President Sam Goldstein said.

The company is carefully monitoring the number of student renters because a student occupancy higher than 40 percent would affect the project’s financing, he added.

“The city of Newark is a flourishing innovation hub led by University of Delaware’s growing STAR Campus, as well as Wilmington-based research institutions that are choosing to expand here. Offering a high-quality, best-in-class residential community is essential to supporting Newark’s evolution,” Goldstein said. “Thorn Flats is another rung in the infrastructure ladder that helps cement Newark as a leader in the technology sector.”

Rent starts at $1,103 per month for a studio apartment and goes as high as $1,629 for a two-bedroom unit with a den.

During last week’s ceremony, Galman donated 200 smoke detectors to Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company, which has a station adjacent to Thorn Flats.

“We’ve been next door since 1985, so we’ve seen this property here change a lot over the years – some for the good, some for the bad,” Aetna President Dan Seador said. “I dare say that some previous property owners have really struggled to make this a showpiece complex. I think most of them have failed. I look around today at what you’ve got here, and it’s amazing. It really is a showpiece. We’re happy to be neighbors to this project.”

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