Some are calling Newark's 1 Rector St. the “Shaq Tower,” and that's OK with the NBA Hall of Famer, Newark native and business mogul Shaquille O'Neal.
O’Neal was back in his hometown on Tuesday to celebrate the latest project to grace the skyline of New Jersey’s biggest city. He also announced his $150 million investment in a 35-story, 350-unit residential project coming to downtown Newark and recalled a comment from his mother on a visit to Newark back in the 1990s.
“My mom said, ‘I wish somebody would make this city beautiful again,’” he said. “Well, I’m that somebody. This will be known as the house that Shaq built. I was born and raised here, and I love this city.”
Gov. Phil Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and a host of elected officials and dignitaries were also on hand to top-off the soon-to-be-completed, 23-story residential tower, which will include 169 market-rate rental housing units and ground-floor retail space.
The 1 million-sq.-ft. building, located just blocks from Newark Penn Station, will offer skyline views of the Passaic River Waterfront Park and New York City. The site was formerly home to Science High School.
Additionally, the project received a $24 million New Jersey Department of Economic Development Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit.
“This is a pretty special day for Newark and New Jersey,” Murphy said. “Newark is on the rise, there is no doubt about it. As Newark goes, so goes the great state of New Jersey.”
The $61 million project, lauded as the first of its kind in half a century, is representative of an ongoing renaissance in the city, with Newark building on its growing reputation as a hot spot for both residential and commercial investment.
“This is part of a larger renaissance that’s happening in downtown Newark,” Baraka said.
Anadu said Goldman Sachs began looking into investing in Newark a dozen years ago, when the group decided to tackle a deteriorating movie theater.
“We wanted to be a part of turning around Newark,” she said, noting that Goldman Sachs has invested approximately $1 billion throughout the state -- $600,000,000 in Newark alone.
“We wanted to start with something that put the community first and building out from there,” Anadu said.
Recent mixed-use residential projects in downtown Newark include the Hahne’s Building and One Theater Square, among others, and all cited as representative of the city’s growing popularity.
“We are on the precipice of competing with Hoboken and Jersey City,” said Oliver, a Newark native. “All kinds of things are happening. You can move in too to ‘Shaq Tower’ and see it all. This is a great day for New Jersey.”