NEWARK, NJ—PrimeLerner Companies, a private real estate and investment firm, has acquired 536-540 Central Ave., a historic building in the West Ward of Newark. The new ownership has plans to renovate the structure to create apartments and retail space.

“We’re bringing this building back to life,” said Gerard Barrett, PrimeLerner’s managing principal. “It only took one look inside for us to envision people living there -- law and medical school students -- those who want to live in a historical building with a contemporary design in the West Ward.”

Originally constructed in 1897 as the Hospital for Women and Children, the 27,000-sq.-ft. building is in close proximity to Essex County College, Rutgers-Newark, UMDNJ and Seton Hall Law School.

Upon completion of its overhaul, which is expected to take approximately one year, the five-story building will include 27 units including two duplex lofts and four street-level businesses. Apartments will include a mixture of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units and will include open floor plans and hard wood floors.