A Newark university is preparing to spend several million dollars in order to expand its campus to a major intersection in the city.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is planning to acquire 15 properties, including 11-21 Sussex Avenue, 311 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, 156 Central Avenue, and 129 Bleecker Street, all of which are located in the Central Ward’s University Heights neighborhood. The properties in question are all owned by Frederick Mueller Family, LLC. They include a massive warehouse at the corner of Sussex Avenue and Summit Street and the longtime Mueller Supply Company and Mueller Brothers Florists complex at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Central Avenue.
A resolution from the university states that “Frederick Mueller Family LLC desires to sell and convey to NJIT, and NJIT desires to purchase and acquire from Frederick Mueller Family LLC, all of Frederick Mueller Family LLC’s right, title and interest in and to” the sites. According to the agenda for the NJIT Board of Trustees’ November meeting, the university will pay $6 million for all of the tracts, with $300,000 worth of additional funds allocated for “legal, closing, and due diligence costs.” The agenda states that at least part of the funding for the acquisition will come from the $15 million in cash proceeds that NJIT received for “future strategic property acquisitions” after its 2017 debt refinancing.
NJIT’s full plans for the “strategically located” sites are not specified in either the meeting agenda or the resolution, though Mueller Brothers is expected to lease the property back from the university for up to four years. What is mentioned in the agenda is that NJIT will be able to “program, plan, design, and finance a future building” at the site of the properties on the south side of Central Avenue that could be completed by 2025. Plus, the development is expected to be “a mixed-use facility promoting a vibrant and walkable community,” according to the agenda.
In addition to the Mueller-owned tracts, the school is also planning to acquire the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity house at 317 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, possibly through eminent domain should an “amicable agreement” not be reached with TKE. The three-story house, which is located adjacent to the Mueller Brothers site, was the site of a robbery and homicide back in 2016. The meeting agenda describes the building as being “in poor condition,” having “no real architecture of value,” and coming across as “aesthetically unappealing.”
This is far from the only expansion project that NJIT is involved in. As we first reported last year, the school is working with the Newark Housing Authority and Claremont Properties on two mixed-use developments along Central Avenue and is planning to tear down the Warren Street Elementary School in order to construct another complex. Meanwhile, along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, NJIT is working with the PRC Group on the NJIT Campus Gateway MLK Project, which will include apartments and retail space.