The long-awaited plans to transform the surface parking lots around Newark's Prudential Center are moving forward under an agreement announced Wednesday between the city and the longtime owners of the property, paving the way for the creation of a vibrant, mixed-use plaza that will connect the downtown and the popular Ironbound district.
At a news conference, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said city officials and Edison Properties have reached agreements to redevelop 22 acres of vacant land into a space known as Triangle Park. The project calls for commercial and residential units in addition to public, open spaces and a 1/2-mile-long footbridge spanning the Ironbound's Peter Francisco Park and the blocks west of McCarter Highway.
The park will be bordered by Mulberry Street, Lafayette Street, McCarter Highway and Edison Place.
The project is more than a decade in the making and has long been seen as the next step to revitalizing the city blocks around the 9-year-old Prudential Center. City officials said Wednesday that it has been a priority since Baraka took office in 2014, leading to more than a year of negotiations that earned the support of Edison Properties and its CEO, real estate mogul Jerry Gottesman.
"It's incredibly important to us, because it's been a stalemate for a very long time and we had the opportunity to take the ball over the finish line," Baraka said. "And it means a lot for the city of Newark."
Baraka said the project will have a broad economic impact, adding that "it gets us a little closer to the 24-hour city that we've been trying to get to." He likened it to the High Line, the elevated pedestrian walkway on Manhattan's West Side that has become a destination in recent years.
City officials didn't specify an exact cost, but said the project will be financed by a mix of private and public funds. Other funding partners include the Prudential Center, the New Jersey Devils and J&L Parking Corp. Completion is slated for July 2018.
Edison Properties and J&L Parking Corp. will oversee development of the commercial and residential component. The city of Newark and the Newark Community Economic Development Corp. will oversee design and development of the park space and footbridge.
The city has issued a landscape-design service request for qualifications for the park, with responses due April 1.
Ben Feigenbaum, Edison Properties' chief operating officer, said the new space will become an asset and amenity to residents and workers in the city and a destination to those who are visiting.
"This administration has taken this project and has made it a reality," Feigenbaum said. "And we only see good things coming in a few years."