DOWNTOWN NEWARK STREETSCAPE PROJECT BREAKS GROUND
Mayor Cory Booker (L) and EDA Finance Officer Mathew Abraham (R) at the Newark Downtown District Streetscape Improvement Groundbreaking Ceremony.
NEWARK, N.J. (June 26, 2007) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) joined Mayor Cory Booker and others to break ground on the Newark Downtown District Streetscape Improvement Project on June 26, 2007. This will be the largest capital project ever to be financed by a special improvement district (or SID) in the State of New Jersey.
On May 30, 2007, the Board of Trustees of the Newark Downtown District (NDD) approved financing for a $17.5 million capital project that will remake 56 blocks of downtown Newark, featuring sidewalks and public space improvements starting this summer. The type and scope of this privately financed capital improvement debt by a special improvement district has only been done a handful of times in the U.S. (by the Grand Central Partnership and 34th Street Partnership, both in New York City, and the Center City District in Philadelphia, PA, to name a few).
The streetscape project will be financed through an innovative partnership with the EDA, which has approved $10 million in bonds to be issued on behalf of the NDD. The financing was assembled in a cooperative effort between the Booker Administration, the Newark Municipal Council and the NDD. The debt service on the bonds will be paid for by the NDD, which is funded through a special assessment on 594 commercial properties in downtown Newark.
The project, which will occur in phases over a three-year period, will encompass the gateway area of downtown Newark and nearly 600 properties. The $17.5 million includes the $10 million bond issue from NJEDA, with the remainder of the funds supplied through a combination of cash and in-kind commitments from the Newark Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), the NDD, the City of Newark and PSE&G.
The first phase of the project will encompass the area immediately surrounding the Prudential Center to prepare the area for its grand opening this fall. Business and property owners throughout the downtown will be updated as construction reaches their areas.
“We’re excited to roll out the red carpet for the Prudential Center and for all who work in and visit downtown Newark and commit to its revitalization,” said Mayor Cory A. Booker. “And we are particularly thrilled that we were able to finance this project through mostly private resources – and at minimal cost to the citizens of Newark.” The NDD will pay the debt service on the NJEDA bonds and PSE&G will contribute $4 million in in-kind materials and services mostly related to street lamps. The public portion of the funding comes through the UEZ funds which are sales tax receipts collected and redistributed by the State of New Jersey.
“This is an exciting time for downtown Newark. No significant, wide-scale streetscape project has taken place in downtown Newark in over a generation. With the addition of the Prudential Center and the improved public realm, there will be more reasons than ever for people to come to Newark,” said Anthony McMillan, Executive Director of the Newark Downtown District.
The New Jersey EDA is an independent, self-sustaining state financing and development agency that works to promote economic growth, job creation and the revitalization of New Jersey’s communities with financing assistance, technical support and entrepreneurial training, and real estate development activities.
“We are extremely pleased to be taking part in the continued renaissance of Newark by providing low-interest bond financing for this important urban redevelopment project,” said EDA Chief Executive Officer Caren S. Franzini. It represents the latest in a long history of financing involving the EDA and the city’s businesses and nonprofit organizations. Since 1974, the EDA has provided $1.68 billion in financing assistance to nearly 500 projects in Newark, that have created an estimated 17,000 new jobs supported $2.2 billion in total public/private investments.
* * *
The Newark Downtown District, Newark’s special improvement district of the central business area, was established by Newark Municipal Council ordinance in September 1998. The NDD dedicates its $2 million annual budget to revitalizing downtown Newark by improving the economic viability of the central business district and enhancing the quality of life for residents, workers, students and visitors through supplemental services such as cleaning and security, marketing and special events including Foodtopia, and physical improvement programs.
The NDD’s boundaries extend from Central Avenue and Broad Street at the north, south down to Branford/Edison at Broad Street; University Avenue to the west (running between Central and Branford) and east just behind Penn Station.
The NDD is overseen by a fifteen member Board of Trustees consisting of business and property owners within the District, representatives of non-profit organizations, and municipal officials and staff.