For generations, the Ironbound District, in Newark’s East Ward, has been the first stop for immigrants from Europe, Central and South America looking for new opportunities in the state’s largest urban center. The latest wave of newcomers to the Brick City, however, is coming by way of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Jersey City and Hoboken as Millennials seek transit-connected, live-work-play environments that are as affordable as they are attractive in terms of amenities and convenience.
Numerous development projects, some under construction and others in the planning stages, are intended to meet the demands of this new demographic. They range from luxury housing units and mixed-use development to green space protection and expansion that are changing people’s understanding of what residential life in Newark is all about.
“For years, the Ironbound has earned a reputation as a safe, welcoming and affordable destination to enjoy excellent restaurants, intriguing international shopping and to live and raise a family,” notes Seth A. Grossman, executive director of the Ironbound Business Improvement District (IBID). “Now, the combination of convenience, amenities and connectivity are spurring new development that will raise the bar for the Ironbound and for Newark when it comes to desirable places to live and work.”
Perhaps no project has been more widely anticipated than the proposed Triangle Park, located on land currently occupied by parking lots and vacant buildings between the Prudential Center and the Ironbound. The project, which will include multiple acres of landscaped green space between Mulberry Street, Lafayette Street, Edison Place and McCarter Highway (Rt. 21), plus both residential and retail development, will move ahead in 2016, with a 2018 completion targeted.
Linking 22 acres around the Prudential Center via a pedestrian footbridge across Route 21 to Newark Penn Station and the Ironbound’s Peter Francisco Park, the $30-million project is seen as an important catalyst for further development.
In June, Newark officials, developers and local stakeholders gathered in the Ironbound’s Riverfront Park along the Passaic River to announce a mile-long addition to the waterfront green space. The park, completed in 2012 after years of toxic remediation and the construction of sports facilities, walking and biking trails, playgrounds and more, will extend north with the new section designed by James Corner Field Operations. The firm is best known for its work on Manhattan’s popular High Line Park as well as other high-profile park projects in Seattle, London and Hong Kong.
A 5.2-acre site just two blocks from Newark Penn Station has drawn considerable interest from potential developers since it was listed for sale in early 2016. Located between Ferry and Market streets, the property is the current home of longtime Ironbound restaurant favorite Iberia Peninsula as well as additional structures and surrounding service parking.
Local real estate experts believe the redevelopment of the Iberia property, with retail space on the ground floor and luxury apartments above, will spur additional projects that will continue to change the ambiance of the Ironbound District.
Newark officials joined developers for a groundbreaking ceremony in 2016 to mark the start of construction on The Continental on a currently vacant site along Ferry and Magazine streets. The complex will contain 89 apartments, commercial space, indoor parking, an exercise room and outdoor recreation center.
According to information obtained from Essex County Place (www.placeNJ.com), the Newark Zoning Board approved the construction of a 100-room, six-story boutique hotel in 2014 to be built at Lafayette and Monroe streets. The neighborhood’s first hotel will feature retail stores on the first floor, a rooftop lounge and café, a rear garden terrace, a business center and conference rooms upon completion.
Other Ironbound projects in various stages of planning and development, according to Essex County Place, include the proposed conversion of a commercial building located on Adams Street between Lafayette and Ferry streets into a mixed-use residential and commercial building. The developer, Beacon Redevelopment Urban Renewal Company, is seeking a 15-year tax abatement for the project, which will include 28 apartments on the upper floors and six retail spaces on the first floor.
The website also reveals that Yglesias Residential Properties has a proposal before the Newark Zoning Board for the construction of two new buildings in the Ironbound. A five-story building with 60 residential units and a four-story building with six residential units and a gym are proposed for 13-31 New York Avenue and 132 Walnut Street, between New Jersey Railroad Avenue and McWhorter Street. A parking garage with 59 spaces is also proposed.
Finally, Essex County Place information mentions that Sesnar Group, LLC has applied to the Newark Planning Board to build a 30,797-square-foot, five-story building at 852-854 Raymond Boulevard. The project, on a vacant lot near the Jackson Street Bridge, would include 16 apartments with a street level garage if approved.
“The City of Newark is on the rise and is experiencing a growth of unique development projects, especially along our neighborhood commercial corridors,” concludes Baye Adofo-Wilson, deputy mayor/director, City of Newark, Department of Economic and Housing Development. “This development is reinvigorating our neighborhoods around the city, so we’re excited.”