While most stories concerning development in New Jersey’s largest city relate to market-rate mixed-use projects that are being proposed in and around Newark’s downtown, a proposal for five tracts in the “number blocks” section of the city’s West Ward could bring a different kind of development to the community.
Currently, 432-434, 436-440, 442-446, 454-462, and 476 South Orange Avenue are all vacant lots near West Side High School that are under the ownership of the City of Newark. However, during its meeting on October 24, the Newark Municipal Council approved a resolution that calls for all five properties to be sold to an Ironbound-based firm called 432-446 South Orange Avenue, LLC for $610,000. 90 percent of the proceeds from the sale is expected to go into the Newark Community and Economic Development Dedicated Trust Fund, with the rest being deposited into the Newark Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The new owner is expected to construct a new complex that would include a healthcare center, a housing facility for veterans, ground floor retail space, and parking. The number of units that would be provided for veterans was not listed in the resolution.
The resolution states that the “redevelopment of said properties will contribute to the social and economic improvement of the West Ward in accordance with the intent, goals and objectives of the City’s strategy to rehabilitate and reinvigorate neighborhoods with quality housing, additional stores, services and recreational facilities, and improved public spaces,” adding that “based upon the City’s review of the Proposal and other information, the City has determined that the redeveloper possesses the proper qualifications, financial resources and the capacity to acquire and redevelop the properties.” The agreement was unanimously approved by the Newark Municipal Council.
The LLC is registered out of the same address in the 228 Lafayette Professional Building as Saint James Health. Last year, the City of Newark and the developer were expected to enter into a different redevelopment agreement, but that proposed deal has been replaced with the resolution from last month.
This center might not be the only healthcare facility to open in the neighborhood. Last year, Carmelo Garcia, who was the Executive Vice President and Chief Real Estate Officer of Newark Community Economic Development Corporation at the time, stated that a polytrauma center was being proposed for the old Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery site at 552-572 South Orange Avenue by Grove Street, possibly bringing at least 1,000 jobs to the neighborhood. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka confirmed the plans during his 2017 State of the City address, mentioning that a medical center at the Pabst site would serve returning veterans and be joined by a hotel and parking deck as part of a “unique Veterans Village.” However, the proposed polytrauma center, which would rise near the planned West Side Heights project, has barely been discussed publicly by city officials since last year.