Last month, Jersey Digs first reported that a development project is in the works for 31-39 Central Avenue, at the northwest corner of Halsey Street, in the Central Ward. At the time, Carmelo Garcia, the Chief Real Estate Officer and Executive Vice President of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), stated that L+M Development Partners, of New York, was planning a new building with residential space on the property. City records show that the site is owned by Cottage Street Orbit Acquisition, LLC, which is listed in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a subsidiary of Newark-based Prudential Financial.
Representatives from L+M and Prudential declined to answer questions regarding the project when contacted for comment by Jersey Digs last month.
The building at the property, which is located near Washington Park, the Newark Museum, the Hahne and Company Building, and other Downtown attractions, has largely contained vacant first floor storefronts in recent years with the exception of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center. However, the second floor has been the home of 31 Central, described by Rutgers University-Newark as “an unofficial arts hub for the city” where “many creative individuals have intersected.” Next City reported that there is an expectation that artists at 31 Central will lose their spaces within a year.
Now, records from the City of Newark show that a company called Halsey Street Central Associates, LLC filed two applications on August 7th. The first calls for demolishing the existing two-story building at the site that contains 31 Central, while the second goes into detail about what the developers are proposing. According to the application, an eight-story mixed-use building is planned, which would consist of 12,760 square feet of retail space, 15,939 square feet of commercial space, and 95 residential units. Plus, 43 parking spaces would be included in the new project as well, but it is not clear if any room in the development would be reserved for artists.
A spokesperson for L+M told Jersey Digs in a statement that “the project is still in the early stages but conversations with tenants in the building, as well as local stakeholders, have already begun and will continue.”
However, the news of this development proposal came as a surprise to artists at 31 Central, including Newarker Jerry Gant.
“They leave us in the dark,” said Gant, explaining that “if they’re trying to turn something urban into suburban, it’s going to be very challenging.”
Gant discussed how after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans created a Musicians’ Village community in order to preserve the city’s arts and cultural community, and shared how as Downtown Newark’s development increases, the local artists should be able to remain.
“This is like an organic academy,” Gant stated, adding that “we have contributed to the enrichment of the whole city, not just the Downtown district.”
The Newark Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to hear this matter during its regular monthly meeting tonight at 6:15 pm at City Hall.
“Let’s have a conversation about how we can work together,” Gant said.