Zoning officials in Newark are scheduled to vote this week on whether to grant Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval as part of a proposed adaptive reuse of a historic former hospital.
The empty Saint Michael’s Hospital buildings at 292-306 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, at the corner of Central Avenue in the Central Ward, are set to be revitalized by New Jersey Community Capital’s Community Asset Preservation Corporation (CAPC) in partnership with the Hanini Group, Crawford Street Partners, and CTS Group. Last February, when the project was revealed, Jeffrey Crum of CAPC described plans for creating an “arts and cultural incubator for Newark nonprofits and educational institutions.” Now, those plans, which have already been approved by the Newark Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission, are set to be heard by the Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment during its meeting on Thursday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m.
According to a legal notice, 306 MLK Blvd Urban Renewal Company, the LLC that is being used for the application, is currently proposing that the buildings be converted into around 25 residential units on the top floors, office space on the second floor, and space for GlassRoots in the basement and on the first floor. Currently based on Bleeker Street in Downtown Newark, GlassRoots is a non-profit organization that offers glassmaking classes and operates a gallery.
Designed by Jeremiah O’Rourke, part of this four-story and six-story portion of the hospital complex was built beginning in 1871, though it became vacant in the years since the privately owned Saint Michael’s Medical Center expanded its campus to the east. The exterior is filled with crosses and inscriptions reading “St. Michael’s Hospital.”
This is one of several projects involving former hospital sites in the Newark area. Although the former United Hospital on West Market Street was recently demolished in order to make way for the Essex County Congressman Donald M. Payne Sr. Vocational Technical School, an adaptive reuse into affordable housing is proposed for the former Hospital for Women and Children on Central Avenue and the former Essex County Isolation Hospital just outside the city limits in Belleville is being converted into a residential development. However, other former medical sites in the area, including the buildings that made up the Hospital Center at Orange and the property on Irvington Avenue that once housed the Newark City Hospital’s Convalescent Branch, remain vacant.