Maher Foundation Plans Large New Preschool in Newark’s South Ward

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Clinton Place Demarest Street Preschool Newark
Site of proposed new preschool at Clinton Place and Demerest Street, Newark. Aerial view via Google Maps.

Over a dozen state-owned vacant lots in Newark that were once expected to be converted into a new campus for a local high school might instead become the site of an early learning center for some of the city’s youngest students.

The Maher Charitable Foundation, based in suburban Florham Park, has filed an application with City Hall that calls for constructing a large preschool on Clinton Place and Demarest Street in the South Ward. The proposed facility would include 16 classrooms, office space, conference rooms, and community meeting spaces, according to a public notice that was issued in July.


The organization is associated with another non-profit called Pre-K Our Way, which advertised extensively in recent years for additional funding for public early childhood education in New Jersey. Brian Maher, an heir to the Maher Terminals fortune and the chair of Pre-K Our Way, was also involved in the development of the Ironbound Early Learning Center.

A statement issued in May by Dresdner Robin referred to the South Ward project as the Clinton Hill Early Learning Center, mentioning that it “will transform a long-vacant site into a vibrant early learning facility with space for community use” and replace a nearby temporary preschool that was created out of 10 modular trailer units.


The foundation has applied for Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval from the Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment with variances such as use, front yard setback, and lot coverage in order to move the early learning center project forward. A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Thursday, August 8, at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.

The site in question includes 133-155, 157-159, 161, and 163-165 Clinton Place along with neighboring 22-24, 26, 28-30, 32-34, 36, 38-40, and 42-46 Demarest Street. Like several other properties in this area, city tax records show that these tracts, located between Hawthorne and Nye Avenues south of Hawthorne Avenue Elementary School, are owned by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA).

The premises were acquired by the SDA beginning over 15 years ago in order to construct a new campus for Newark’s University High School, according to records posted by NJ Spotlight. The $30.7 million 223,000-square-foot project was expected to serve 900 to 1,200 high school students. However, despite the demolition of dozens of homes to make way for the proposed new high school, the building was never constructed.

During the executive session part of an SDA meeting last year, the authority’s Board approved a resolution “pertaining to a declaration of surplus property, determination of property value and authorization for transfer of real property formerly associated with the Newark University HS project.” Minutes from this year’s SDA meetings indicate that the matter has not been discussed in the time since.

Note to readers: The dates that applications are scheduled to be heard by the Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment and other commissions are subject to change.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. This is the epitome of urban Democrat controlled corruption. Newark is a one-party Democratic Tater ship and hundreds of people were forced from their homes on Dewey Street in a very bitter battle that made national headlines. 15 years later, no schools ever built and all these Newark homeowners who paid taxes to the city were forced out and the land converted to none tax revenue!

  2. Thank you Mr. Hasani Council for your post, while it is informative and positive it left a few important things out, like the fact that a community based organization has held it down in that area since 1972 and is the foundation for all of the activity you refer to in your post. While we applaud the benevolence and commitment of the Maher Foundation and the other group you mentioned, let’s not forget the Newark South Ward Community Activist who have stood strong and tall in that neighborhood for the last 30+ years, our families, neighbors and friends who lost their homes, some of whom still reside in the neighborhood and the late “Ms. Marguerite Bush” our founder and leader. It is on her shoulders that all of this stands on and the organization she founded namely the CLINTON HILL COMMUNITY & EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER, INC…. “WE WELCOME YOU AND ALL WHO ARE CONCERNED about THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD TO COME TO THE “GRAND OPENING” OF OUR TEMPORARY FACILITIES (ALSO BUILT THROUGH THE BENEVOLENCE OF THE MAHER FOUNDATION AT 9-25 DEWEY STREET AND/OR JUST STOP BY AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR OUR ONGOING ACTIVITIES AT OUR MAIN FACILITIES LOCATED AT 420 HAWTHORNE AVENUE…..SINCE 1972)……HAROLD R. EDWARDS, SR. (FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER)…….YOU CAN CONTACT US AT (973) 372-8877 FOR ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION…. “ONCE AGAIN, THANKS FOR THE POSITIVE POSTING”

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