Construction could soon begin on the next phase of what has become one of the most prominent parks in Newark.
Planning is currently underway for Phase C of Riverfront Park, which will involve parcels stretching from Dock Street near Newark Penn Station to Center Street near the Newark FBI office, according to project manager Stephen Walter from Cumming. Part of this portion of the project involves the only area along the waterfront with a previously developed public walkway, though it is difficult to access and currently lacks benches, signage, and other amenities. This previously industrial property is adjacent to several Matrix Development Group-owned lots that are sites of potential new developments, including Amazon’s second headquarters should Newark be selected.
Upcoming efforts will bring a “different aesthetic” to the property, according to Walter, who explained that this phase will include an amphitheater along the Passaic River across from the Center Street Light Rail Station with “natural stepped seating.” In addition, artwork will be incorporated into Phase C, including several sculptures and “an outdoor art gallery-type setup” with screens allowing artists to display their work. Bid documents obtained by Jersey Digs refer to the amphitheater as the “River Theater” and describe plans for a “Garden Gallery,” three kiosks, a promenade, and accessible entrances, along with ongoing efforts to test the soil and groundwater for contamination.
Walter told Jersey Digs that Cumming was contracted by the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC) to oversee the design, bidding, construction, and development of the upcoming portions of the park. James Corner Field Operations, which is known for its work with the High Line and the upcoming Freshkills Park, is involved in Phase C along with Pennoni, the Brandston Partnership, Craul Land Scientists, the Nishuane Group, Yendor Productions, Northern Designs, Soucy Aquatik, and Pentagram, according to bid documents.
Currently, Cumming and the NCEDC are looking for an additional contractor for the project. A legal notice from City Hall shows that “a lump sum general construction contract” will be issued with potential bidders being responsible for “site grading, utilities, infrastructure, hardscape and landscape” along with “coordination of Phase C activities with the activities of the developers for the sites adjacent to the park.” All bids are due by April 6.
Riverfront Park’s first phase opened over five years ago at the edge of the city’s Ironbound neighborhood across from Harrison. Developed in partnership between City Hall, Essex County, the State, and the Trust for Public Land, it includes a playground, a boat dock, athletic fields, and walkways. The park’s most recent phase opened to Newarkers at the end of 2017. This latest addition has expanded the walkway and Horizon Wellness Trail westward from the existing “orange boardwalk,” passing underneath the Jackson Street Bridge.
During the upcoming phases, the existing portion of Riverfront Park will be connected to Phase C and an art shed, cookout ledges, a bluff playground, two dog runs, a beach, volleyball courts, a splash pad, and a balcony will be installed, according to bid documents. There are also plans to “repair and restore” the cobblestoned Dock Street. Eventually, once the bulkhead’s extension is completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the entire park is set to be expanded farther north toward the Bridge Street Bridge and possibly beyond.