Today, some of Essex County’s wealthiest residents reside in suburban communities such as Livingston, Short Hills, and Upper Montclair. However, well over a century ago, Newark’s High Street was where members of the region’s elite were clambering to live. The Central Ward block, known today as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, was where many notable Newarkers like Gottfried Krueger and Christian Feigenspan constructed large mansions overlooking the New York Metropolitan Area.
Over the years, the grand estates met varying fates. While some houses were demolished, other remnants of the area’s past are still standing, with grand homes like the Krueger-Scott Mansion, the Feigenspan Mansion, and the Coe Mansion remaining as part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard streetscape. However, while the Krueger-Scott Mansion is slated to become part of the Makerhoods development, the Feigenspan Mansion is owned by a church, and another house on the block has become home to the Newark Foundry Workspaces, the three-story Coe Mansion sits vacant, with boarded-up windows clearly visible from the street. Now, after being referred to by POLITICO Magazine as “a faded gem that reflects the block’s decline,” changes could be coming to this historic site at 698-670 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Under a new adaptive reuse proposal, 698 MLK Blvd, LLC is seeking to rehabilitate the mansion in order to convert the building into a multi-family development. 15 residential units are being planned for the house, according to a legal notice. The developer has filed an application with the Newark Central Planning Board in order to receive Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval with variances for insufficient unit size, insufficient parking, and having a prohibited type of fencing.
Few other details have been revealed yet about the renovation plans. However, as we first reported last year, city tax records show that the property is currently owned by FDF 3, LLC, which is registered out of the same address in Ramsey as firms that have been buying up properties all over Newark over the last few years and proposing new and adaptive reuse developments.
The Coe Mansion, also known as Glencoe, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service records show that the Italianate-style house dates back to 1871, the year that it was built for the family of leather manufacturer James Dickerson. Beginning 15 years later, the Coe family, described as “leading merchants of steel and heavy hardware in Newark,” owned the property, keeping it until shortly after World War II.
In addition to the Coe and Dickerson families, one particularly notable resident of the Coe Mansion was Senator Cory Booker, the former Newark mayor and Central Ward councilman who is currently a Democratic presidential candidate. During a CNN interview outside the Coe Mansion earlier this year, Booker told Jake Tapper that his first home in Newark was a room that he rented inside the house for around $400 per month.
“This was just a very different road at the time,” Booker explained to Tapper. “Literally as my best friend and I were moving my stuff in, I came back to the street [and] my stuff was stolen.”
Booker later moved across the street to the former Brick Towers complex, which is now the site of the new Aston Heights development.
The proposal to adaptively reuse the Coe Mansion is scheduled to be heard by the Newark Central Planning Board during its meeting today at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Note to readers: The dates that applications are scheduled to be heard by the Newark Central Planning Board and other commissions are subject to change.