A number of development projects in Newark are already ongoing or will break ground in 2022, with the potential to rejuvenate the city’s infrastructure and create a lively downtown area.
In 2021, city officials unveiled a number of projects that residents have been waiting for for years, including the redevelopment of the former Newark Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium. The property will be developed into a flourishing centre for residential, retail, and small business uses.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced plans in March to build Kawaida Towers, the city’s first 100 percent affordable housing project. Once completed, the project would realize a long-held dream of the mayor’s late father, Amiri Baraka, who led an effort in the 1970s to improve low-income housing in the primarily Italian-American neighborhood of the North Ward. The project’s cancellation, due in part to opposition and racial tensions, was a devastating blow to the city’s Black community after a period of civil upheaval in the late 1960s.
A 10-year master plan for the city is also being developed. In October, during the mayor’s State of the City Address, he announced that a new master plan is in the works and asked residents to participate in the process.
“We’ll do community meetings in a variety of neighborhoods, focusing on health, equity, and resilience,” Baraka stated. “We will engage the community and stakeholders in a comprehensive manner.”
The mayor also mentioned a number of ongoing projects aimed at revitalizing and reshaping the city, such as the Fairmount Commons Redevelopment Plan and the Dayton Street project. This year, the state Local Finance Board approved a $110 million bond for the Mulberry Commons pedestrian bridge, which would connect the Prudential Center arena, Penn Station, and the Ironbound neighborhood.
There are even more developments in the works in Newark for 2022.
Here are five things to look out for in 2022 if you live in Newark.
1. The Downtown Development Project of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center – NJPAC Riverfront Campus
A new phase of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s (NJPAC) $150 million development project is poised to alter a piece of downtown Newark, increasing the area’s arts and education sector.
NJPAC officials stated in June that the project’s next phase will begin construction in 2022. The goal of the project is to create a “vibrant new neighborhood” with low- and high-rise multifamily buildings, retail, restaurants, and cultural spaces, as well as roughly 15 new townhomes and condos. The project will be built on a section of the riverfront campus of NJPAC.
In addition to the condos and townhomes for sale, this phase will feature the construction of about 350 rental dwellings (80% market rate, 20% subsidized).
2. Newark Community Museum, located at 1017 17th Avenue in Newark.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced plans for the Newark Community Museum in July, which will highlight the city’s history in the 1st Precinct on 17th Avenue, the site of a week of civil unrest in the late 1960s.
The idea is to turn the structure into a permanent exhibition space for Newark citizens’ social initiatives and life celebrations. Residents will be asked to submit artifacts for display as long as they depict stories of people’s battle for justice and resistance to injustice.
The building will house the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, which will document local action and beneficial police improvements in addition to recording citizens’ tales. It will provide inhabitants with a variety of preventative programs, resources, and facilities, including a health recovery and healing area, as well as workforce development.
The structure will be funded by a portion of the city’s public safety budget, which was approved by City Council in 2020 through an ordinance. On December 31, the 1st Precinct is expected to close.
3. A $190 million renovation is planned for Newark Penn Station.
In August, Gov. Phil Murphy and NJ Transit officials announced a $190 million investment in Newark Penn Station restorations and upgrades, with the goal of providing commuters with a modernized travel experience while conserving the station’s historic integrity.
The remodeling and restoration project began in August with a $30 million budget. Additional enhancements of $160 million are planned over the following five years and will be paid for by the state.
NJ Transit has also issued a Request for Proposals for design and construction firms to help restore and upgrade the station. NJ Transit officials said they plan to take a multi-phased approach to the project once a contract is awarded. Restoration of the classic benches in the waiting room, installation of brighter lighting, updating of the bathrooms, improved HVAC and air-handling, fresh paint and tile, and a “deep clean” of the limestone exterior to once again showcase the architecturally significant facade will be the first phase of renovations.
Longer-term improvements will include the restoration of the grand waiting hall, as well as improving the station’s openness and overall commuter and visitor experience.
4. Vibe – William and Halsey Streets
In the downtown redevelopment area, The Tower at Halsey and William Urban Renewal, LLC, a Basking Ridge-based developer, plans to build a 270-unit resort-style apartment complex.
The “Vibe – The Tower at Halsey and William” skyscraper will include 243 market-rate residential units, 27 affordable housing units, two restaurants, and 156 parking spaces, among other amenities. 16-24, 26-30, and 32-34 William St. are the addresses for the project.
The Newark City Council awarded the project a 30-year tax exemption in February, establishing a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program. The PILOT allowed the project to proceed with the execution of a financial agreement and the issuing of up to $1 million in redevelopment area bonds.
74-82 Freeman St., The Ballantine
The Ballantine Brewery Complex in the Ironbound of Newark may have closed in 1972, but the city’s Central Planning Board authorized plans for a mixed-use project on Freeman Street in June that would bring 200-plus residential units to the neighborhood.
The Ballantine is a three-lot development at 74-82 Freeman St. that will be known as “The Ballantine.” Ballantine EFG Property Owner, LLC, the applicant, wants to destroy existing structures and build a six-story mixed-use complex on the site. The project would have 280 residential units, a fitness facility, co-work space, and retail space on the ground floor, as well as an amenity courtyard.
Although the applicant agreed to cooperate with the city to construct affordable housing units on site, there were disagreements about how many there would be during the June planning board hearing.
The subject property is located in the Newark’s River Public Access Redevelopment Plan Area’s Ballantine Brewery Mixed Use Zoning District. In 2017, the city council passed an inclusionary zoning rule, which mandates that any new complexes with more than 30 units set aside 20% of their units for low-income housing.
According to the EFG’s application, they are proposing to provide 14 affordable units where 56 are required, falling short 15 percent of the set aside required by the city’s ordinance.
The applicant’s experts did not guarantee that the 20% affordability requirement would be reached. In place of the affordability criterion, the candidate experts stated that they will still contribute in other ways to better serve the community and city.