Newark – now 50 years removed from the 1967 riots that caused thousands of jobs and residents to flee – has been rebounding fast.
While the city is still struggling to shed a legacy of violence, poverty and corruption, the current wave of urbanization that has helped revitalize cities around the country is also spurring major changes in New Jersey’s largest metropolis. Commercial buildings that have been in the pipeline for years are now beginning to hit the market, and a wave of luxury apartments and new cultural attractions – the secret ingredients to drawing coveted millennials – are right behind them.
Hundreds of real estate professionals gathered at the third annual CAPRE Newark CRE Summit on Thursday, July 27, to hear about the next phase of the city’s comeback.
The event was held at the Robert Treat Hotel, in the heart of Brick City’s thriving Military Park neighborhood. A number of panel discussions were held to highlight its rapidly transforming skyline and selection of arts, entertainment and dining options.
Newark has over $2 billion in real estate development currently underway. Its recovery has been highlighted by the recent opening of a Whole Foods supermarket, as well as of a new Prudential office tower, and the expansion of Amazon-affiliated audiobook producer Audible.
The influx of jobs and entertainment options has also led to increased interest from prospective residents. In the Central Ward alone, more than 6,421 new apartments are expected to hit the market over the next three years, at a total cost of roughly $2.4 billion.
“There seems to be a collision of a great economy, the great leadership we have under [Mayor] Ras J. Baraka, and you,” Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson told attendees.
Among the downtown projects in the pipeline is Ironside Newark, a mixed-use modern office building that will border a newly developed park in the shadow of Newark Penn Station and the Prudential Center arena. The building, the city’s first speculative office project in more than 30 years, is being developed by Edison Properties – a Newark-based company that is one of the largest landowners in the New York City area.
In addition to its loft-style office space and rooftop penthouse, the building hopes to attract experiential retail that will add to the downtown’s already burgeoning appeal.
“It’s food halls, it’s fitness. It’s arts and culture,” said Lenny Lazzarino, Edison Properties’ Vice President of Leasing.
Other speakers at the event seemed to agree that while talk of Newark’s revitalization has been circulating for decades, there are more than enough shovels in the ground to prove it has finally become reality.
“It’s not just cranes in the sky. It’s optimism in the air,” said Frank Ferrugia, a Newark-based real estate attorney at McCarter & English.