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A Look Into Newark's Future

Newark is transforming, with pioneering projects revitalizing the riverfront, downtown and other areas of the city. Overall, $2.4B of investment is powering these changes, according to Newark Community Economic Development Corp. chief real estate officer Carmelo Garcia.

Rendering of Newark's Mulberry Commons

One of the biggest projects will be the redevelopment of the waterfront, spanning 17 acres. James Corner, who was behind New York City’s High Line, is the lead designer and landscape architect for Riverfront Park, which has about a mile completed and by next year will have a total of three miles.

“It’s going to have a High Line feel, utilizing a lot of our natural habitat and materials,” Garcia said of the park, which will mix nature and leisure, with features like a Zen garden, rock-climbing areas, a beach, spray pads and a civic promenade with a theater that will connect to the arts and culture scene at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Earlier this year, Mayor Ras Baraka unveiled Mulberry Commons, which Garcia said will be Newark’s own mini-Central Park. The $100M, Sage & Coombe-designed redevelopment of what was once known as Triangle Park will have public, open space with retail, restaurants and commercial spaces that connect the Ironbound and downtown neighborhoods to the Newark Penn Station area. Mulberry Commons is set to open in summer 2018.

“It’s truly enriching for the city, as most people love to be by both water and transit,” Garcia said.

Newark CEDC chief real estate officer Carmelo Garcia

On the multifamily side, 4,500 new units are under construction and 7,000 are in the pipeline.

In January, L+M Development Partners and city officials cut the ribbon on the former Hahne & Co. department store on Broad Street, redeveloped into a mixed-use mecca that includes 165 apartments, Newark’s first Whole Foods and incubator space.

Among buildings in the works are One Riverview, a market-rate apartment building developed by a collaboration of Newark native Shaquille O’Neal and Boarie Development; L+M’s redevelopment of the former Verizon headquarters into market-rate apartments; and The Berger Organization’s redevelopment of the former Griffith Piano Co. building adjacent to the Hahne project. Other areas undergoing transformation include University Heights and Nesbitt.

“All of these projects in the works ... focus either on transit, employment or entertainment,” Garcia said.

Newark's Bears Stadium

One of the most catalytic will be the redevelopment of the former Bears Stadium into two, iconic 60-story towers that will provide Newark with a commercial base of 200K to 300K SF to attract a West Coast technology company, Garcia said.

Despite all of these projects, Newark in 2020 will still be recognizable.

“The one thing we’re doing differently from nearby cities is that we have put in place a model that will create sustainability for Newark’s future and preserve the working class,” Garcia said, pointing to the proliferation of mixed-income and affordable housing.

Newark has seen the negative impact of gentrification on the working poor and longtime residents and is employing smart-balance growth, he said.

“You need to preserve the diversity and give everyone the opportunity to graduate from their predicaments and live in better housing,” he said.

Garcia will be speaking at Bisnow's Repositioning and Redeveloping New Jersey event at Bell Works on June 20.