Newark’s Eighth Avenue used to cut through the heart of Little Italy, lined with cafés and restaurants. Now, the developer behind Vermella Broad Street is hoping to bring the corridor to life once again.
“This project was a great opportunity for us to participate in Newark’s redevelopment vision of creating new market-rate and affordable housing,” said Ed Russo, CEO of Russo Development.
The 295-unit Vermella project is Russo’s first residential endeavor in Newark. In addition to bringing more street life to the block, Russo promises to offer community assets like a rooftop lounge and gallery space.
For now, most of the city’s arts are happening in the Four Corners, with exhibition spaces like the Newark Museum of Art, Project for Empty Space, Express Newark, and Gallery Aferro. But institutions like the Newark Boys Chorus School are considering moving farther north.
“The arts have played a vital role in the Newark Renaissance,” said Paul Chapin, head of the Newark Boys Chorus School, which hosted its annual gala on May 31. “We look forward to the growing arts scene and potential arts district taking shape around the Broad Street Station.”
Two years ago, Chapin announced the NBCS was moving from its longtime haunts at Symphony Hall to the old State Street School, the city’s oldest standing public school, and the former home of the School for Colored Children. While the pandemic has delayed those plans, Chapin remains committed to the course.
The new developments aren’t confined to the Newark side of the river. In fact, a short walk across the Clay Street bridge is one of Hudson County’s most important adaptive reuse projects. The former Clark Thread Factory, which dates to the 19th century, is being renovated into 616 residential units with ground-floor retail. East Newark officials are pursuing a national retailer to anchor the municipality’s new town center, Kevin Catrambone, the borough’s special projects manager, told Jersey Digs.
In the 19th century, the Clark Thread Company used to straddle both sides of the Passaic River. The renovations, which are now underway, could make the river the new centerpiece of a bicoastal neighborhood. The riverfront will also feature a three-acre park with an amphitheater that will transform the river into a source of natural beauty and outdoor entertainment.
“The park is expected to attract ecology enthusiasts who will enjoy the vast species of wildlife and plant life along the shoreline,” Kevin Catrambone said.
The final piece to reclaiming East Newark’s riverfront from industry is another project by Russo Development. The Bridge by Vermella, on the site of the American Strip Steel factory, will bring 276 units to the waterside.
Catambrone said he’s banking on this foot traffic making Central Avenue a retail corridor. “The retail will create jobs for our residents and the additional residential units will bring a vibrant dynamic along Central Avenue allowing the businesses on the main road to thrive and prosper,” he said.