The Newark community came together this past Monday to celebrate the reopening of a long-shuttered downtown landmark. The Hahne and Company building officially re-opened this week with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by some of Newark’s most prominent players, both public and private.
In 1911, Hahne’s and Company opened a flagship store designed by Goldwin Starrett at 609 Broad Street. For decades, the building was a hallmark of the community. As Council President Mildred Crump recalled, “the Hahne’s Building brings back fond memories of an era long gone in the City of Newark. Shopping at Hahne’s was a wonderful experience. Hahne’s had the capacity to appeal to and provide for both the upscale and moderate shopper. It was a place for people to meet. It provided what Newark residents needed and made it possible for them to not have to travel to New York City or the suburbs.”
Eventually, the city fell on tough times and the store closed. Thirty years of vacancy and deterioration took its toll on the property, causing many to believe it was too far gone.
But thanks to a well-structured public-private partnership between the city, L+M Development Partners, major private stakeholders including Prudential Financial and Goldman Sachs, along with Rutgers University-Newark, the projects was able to gain the traction needed to bring the hulking landmark back to life.
The result is a $174 million mixed-use development offering mixed-income housing, 75,000 square feet of retail space that will include Whole Foods, a restaurant by renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson and a Barnes and Noble, as well as an additional 100,000 square feet of commercial, community, and office uses.
Of the community space, Rutger’s took 50,000 square feet for Express Newark, a creative center with facilities “designed to support cross-unit, cross-sector, cross-institutional” collaboration. The center includes an arts incubator, communication media center, Newark Print Shop, portrait studio, maker space with 3D printing capabilities as well as gallery space for art and museum exhibitions.
Mayor Ras Baraka opened the ceremony thanking everyone involved in the project for believing in Newark and the future of the city. “The revitalization of this iconic structure has married the grandeur of our past with the possibilities of our future, said Baraka. He also thanked L+M Development Partners for committing to the project and honoring the city’s request to hire Newark labor where ever possible, which garnered resounding applause from the audience.
Former Mayor and current Senator of New Jersey Cory Booker made the trip up from Washington DC specifically for the event. In his last year as mayor, Booker announced the project. He is also credited with convincing Whole Foods to commit to Newark.
Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor also spoke, along with Marcus Samuelsson, and executives from Prudential Financial, L+M Development Partners, Citi Community Capital, and The Goldman Sachs Group.
The project hopes to be the catalyst the area needs to bring back the vibrancy of yesteryear. Quoting former Mayor Kenneth Gibson, Senator Booker signed off, “Wherever American cities are going, Newark will get there first.” Hahne’s may only be one step, but judging by the energy, excitement, and optimism in the crowd, it’s clear, Newark’s best days are yet to come.