It was evident at the Third Annual CAPRE Newark Commercial Real Estate Summit that not only will the recent increase in development, businesses, parkland, and housing in Downtown Newark, University Heights, and the Ironbound continue, but that this trend will soon be seen even more in other parts of the city like Weequahic and Clinton Hill.
“Right now, Newark is experiencing $2.5 billion in redevelopment,” said Carmelo Garcia, the Executive Vice President and Chief Real Estate Officer of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC), explaining that “you have about 7,000 units in the pipeline in the city.”
Garcia and 30 other local business and government leaders spoke at the summit, which was held last Thursday at the Robert Treat Hotel, located in the shadow of the upcoming One Theater Square mixed-use development that recently reached the 22nd floor. One Theater Square was just one of the dozens of real estate projects across the city that were mentioned by speakers during the event, which included presentations such as panel discussions of the upcoming Ironside Newark project in the former Edison Warehouse Company building, the rehabilitation of the former New Jersey Bell headquarters building at 540 Broad Street into 263 apartments and retail space, and an analysis of the state of the real estate market in New Jersey’s largest city.
During the discussion of the 540 Broad Street project, Reuben Teague of Newark-based Prudential Financial stated that “we have 50,000 people commuting here every day to work, but most of them go home at 5:00 and leave the city to other parts of New Jersey or even back to New York city,” telling attendees that “our overall thesis is that for Downtown to be really healthy, it’s got to have a really healthy residential population and it’s got to have the kind of mix of goods and services that people have come to expect.”
As development continues across the city, there has been concern among several community groups about existing Newarkers possibly being priced out of the neighborhoods that they have called home for decades. Many cited changes in Brooklyn and Jersey City in recent years as examples to avoid.
For example, the NJ Communities United group is planning a protest during a meeting of the Newark Alliance, asking potential attendees to “join the members of NJ Communities United to speak out against the corporate take over and gentrification of Newark,” adding that “this is our Newark and decisions about our future belong to us, not the corporate elite!” Plus, there has been opposition by many residents of the Ironbound neighborhood to potential zoning changes near Newark Penn Station that would allow for 15-story buildings.
However, several speakers and attendees at the summit stated that they do not intend to displace any Newark residents, explaining how many new projects in the city, such as the new apartments at the Hahne & Company Building, include housing that has been designated as affordable and how all five wards now feature community storefronts.
“As a Brooklyn girl, I was squeezed out of the borough,” said Aisha Glover, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the NCEDC, telling Jersey Digs that “what we don’t want is for displacement to happen in Newark and we want that equitable inclusive development.”
Amid so much discussion in recent months of Downtown redevelopment, it is often overlooked that other projects are beginning in other neighborhoods, including the upcoming West Side Heights project in the West Ward, the Tucker View mixed-use project in the South Ward, and a new 90-unit building in the North Ward.
Baye Adofo-Wilson, Newark’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Housing Development, told Jersey Digs that one of the most important projects in the city that he feels has gone “under the radar” is the upcoming $1.8 billion PATH station that will serve Newark Liberty International Airport and will have an entrance at 422 Frelinghuysen Avenue, just around the corner from Weequahic Park.
“I’m excited for Newark’s future,” said Adofo-Wilson, explaining that, “I think it’s going to be booming and bustling, and I think we’re going to have an increased level of diversity, opportunities, and access.”