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Friday, September 30, 2016

New Art Gallery Coming to Downtown South Orange


South Orange, New Jersey: An art gallery will open soon in South Orange.

Gallery OVO is coming to 126 South Orange Avenue, between Prospect Street and Academy Street. According to South Orange Village Center Alliance Executive Director Bob Zuckerman's post in this week's Village Vibe newsletter, the gallery will be owned by local artists Caro Kalb-Marr and Richard Marr. A grand opening event will be held from 7:00pm to 11:00pm on Saturday, October 15. The business's Instagram account states that it is "committed to bringing emerging artists into the public consciousness".

The space was previously occupied by the South Orange Vacuum Cleaner Company.

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New Banks Planned in Livingston and Maplewood


Livingston, New Jersey: New banks are planned for two Essex County suburbs.

Columbia Bank, based in Fair Lawn, Bergen County, is planning to open a branch in Livingston, according to a legal notice from the Northeastern District Office of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The Columbia Bank branch will be located at 270 South Livingston Avenue, between Belmont Drive and Irving Avenue. The space, which is next to a 7-Eleven convenience store, was previously a Valley National Bank branch. Columbia Bank currently has two other Essex County locations on Route 23 in Cedar Grove and on Passaic Avenue in Fairfield.

In addition, BCB Community Bank, based in Bayonne, Hudson County, is proposing to open a branch in the new Clarus Maplewood development, according to a legal notice from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The 20-unit development, located at 160 Maplewood Avenue near the Maplewood Train Station, is being built at the site of the former main Maplewood Post Office. BCB currently has Essex County locations in Fairfield and South Orange. There will be four other retail spaces at Clarus, one of which will be occupied by a Starbucks Coffee location, according to the development website. A legal notice from the Maplewood Township Planning Board also states that "additional plaza amenities", including a clock tower and benches, are planned for the property.

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House Tour Coming to Forest Hill in Newark


Newark, New Jersey: A tour will soon be offered of homes in a historic Newark neighborhood.

The annual self-guided Forest Hill House Tour will be held on Sunday, October 9th, from 11:00am to 3:00pm, in Newark's North Ward. Nearly a dozen properties can be toured by participants, including the historic Sydenham House on Old Road to Bloomfield across from Branch Brook Park. The house, which remains a private residence, dates to 1711, making it the oldest building in Newark, and one of the oldest private houses in the country. In addition, Mount Prospect Avenue's Wright-Clark Mansion, which was recently renovated for use by the North Ward Center, will also be opened to attendees. 

Tickets for the tour cost $25, and may be purchased beginning at 10:00am at the Ballantine Gates, located at the corner of Lake Street and Ballantine Parkway. The event, which will be presented by the Forest Hill Community Association, will take place rain or shine.

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Photo of the Day 9/30/16


This photo shows a bike lane in Newark's Ironbound.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/29/16


This photo shows ghost signs for Howard Clothes and Donald's Furniture in Downtown Newark.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/28/16


This photo shows Newark's Society Hill development with West Orange in the distance.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Manischewitz Plant in Newark to Offer Tours


Newark, New Jersey: A factory in Newark will soon offer tours to the public.

According to the City of Newark, Manischewitz is launching 'The Manischewitz Experience' at its plant in Newark's East Ward. Public tours will be offered all year long of the facility, which opened in 2008 at 80 Avenue K, just off of Wilson Avenue in an industrial area between Routes 1/9 and the New Jersey Turnpike. A variety of products, including matzo and macaroons, are produced at the factory, and according to the city, the "tours will give visitors a look at food production and promote cross-cultural experiences".

Tomorrow, Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Cerf, and Newark children will tour the plant and receive gift bags of matzo.

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Planet Fitness Coming to Downtown Newark


Newark, New Jersey: A new gym will be coming to Newark.

Planet Fitness is planning to open a location at 520 Broad Street in Downtown, between Bridge Street and Lombardy Street, just across from Washington Park. According to Planet Fitness Public Relations Manager Becky Zirlen, the location is expected to open in early 2017. It will be the third location in Essex County for the national chain. Another club operates in Belleville, and a location opened in East Orange in 2014.

The new location will be one of several gyms in Newark, including Colosseum Gym, New York Sports Clubs, Club Metro USA, and Evolution gym. 

The space that Planet Fitness will occupy is located within the IDT Building, part of which was recently renovated. Despite online plans from Amara Associates calling for a conversion of the building into apartments, Bill Ulrey of IDT told Essex County Place in June that "IDT has no plans of closing Newark operations", and that "in light of the rapid growth of this area of Newark, we are seeking tenants for other spaces within the building".

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Photo of the Day 9/27/16


This photo shows the Rutgers-Newark clock tower with Great Notch in Passaic County in the distance.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Newark Housing Authority Plans to Sell More Property


Newark, New Jersey: The Newark Housing Authority (NHA) is planning to sell even more of its property.

A resolution obtained by Essex County Place shows that in May, the NHA Board of Commissioners voted to authorize Executive Director Keith Kinard to enter into an exclusive listing agreement and "to make any revisions as necessary" with Assurance Realty Group to be the real estate broker for a potential sale of 500-506 Broad Street in Downtown Newark. 

The building in question is "the NHA principal office building", according to the resolution, and is where NHA meetings are held. The Newark Youth One Stop and Career Center and the Youth Development Clinic are also located inside the building, which was acquired for $1.2 million by the NHA in 1997 from First Union National Bank, according to NJ Parcels. The resolution states that Assurance will receive a commission of 4% of the purchase price, and that Chief Legal Officer Ellen Harris approved it for legality.

Plus, another lot owned by the Newark Housing Authority could be sold. Currently, 915-933 Broad Street is a wooded lot directly across the street from City Hall. However, a resolution from the same meeting on May 26th shows that the Board of Commissioners authorized Kinard to enter into an option agreement and to "make any revisions as necessary" with Urban Builders Collaborative of New York and Zigni Group of Irvington for the potential purchase of the lot for $1.955 million. 

It is not clear who owns Zigni Group, but Urban Builders Collaborative is the real estate development entity of Lettire Construction, which is also redeveloping the former Irvington General Hospital site into The HillTop complex. The company paid $960,000 in back wages in 2012, according to The New York Times, and owned $2.8 million in back wages in 2014, the New York Daily News reports.

Kinard has not responded to several interview requests regarding the authority's affairs. He is one of the highest paid employees in Newark, earning over $220,000 per year according to DataUniverse. 

Despite the authority's website having a 'transparency documents' page, agendas for meetings in June, July, and September have not been posted, and press releases have not been issued online since 2012. A copy of the 'NHA Voice' newsletter has not been posted on the website in nearly six years.

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Verona Bakery Reportedly Closed After Decades in Operation


Verona, New Jersey: A popular bakery in suburban Essex County appears to have closed.

Di Paolo's Bakery, located at 603-605 Bloomfield Avenue in Verona, has been listed for lease on LoopNet. The listing states that the family that owned the bakery retired, and that the space will be available beginning in October. The bakery served a variety of items, ranging from Italian bread to cakes and donuts to personal pizzas.

Di Paolo's has been an institution in Essex County for several decades, and has operated both in Verona and several miles east on Bloomfield Avenue in Newark's North Ward. The Newark location, which was established in 1961 as Di Paolo Brothers Bakery, closed in 2012 and is now a pharmacy.

The phone number associated with the business has been placed out of service.

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Sport Clips Coming to West Caldwell


West Caldwell, New Jersey: A new barber shop will open in West Caldwell.

A location of Sport Clips is coming to the West Caldwell Plaza, located at 749 Bloomfield Avenue, between Fairfield Avenue and Passaic Avenue. This will be the first Essex County franchise of the national chain, which has 30 locations across New Jersey. It is expected to open in mid-January of 2017.

"We are excited to be opening our second location in such a well known and loved community", owner Joe Capuano told Essex County Place. Capuano also owns a location in Northvale, Bergen County.

The space that the West Caldwell Sport Clips is taking over was previously occupied by Twist Frozen Yogurt and Antonio Michael Salon. Smashburger also recently opened a location in the plaza.

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NJTV to Hold Forum Regarding Drug Addiction in Newark


Newark, New Jersey: New Jersey's public television station will host a forum next week in Newark.

NJTV will hold the Healthy NJ: New Jersey’s Drug Addiction Crisis Community Forum on Wednesday, October 5th, from 6:00pm to 8:30pm, at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark. According to the event listing, the event "will discuss the complexities and options for treatment and recovery of individuals from all walks of life affected by the state’s heroin, opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic". 

Correspondent Michael Hill will moderate, and panelists will include Jim McGreevey, the former New Jersey governor, Dr. Indria Cidambi, the founder of the Center for Network Therapy, Earl C. Lipphardt, Jr., the Chief Residential Office of Newark's Integrity House, and Armando Fontoura, the Essex County Sheriff.

Admission to the forum is free, and it is open to the public, but registration is required. To register, send an email to betancourts@njtvonline.org.

The Boys and Girls Club of Newark is located at 1 Avon Avenue, at the corner of Somerset Street, just off of Clinton Avenue.

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Photo of the Day 9/26/16


This photo shows the view of Lower Manhattan, the Ironbound, and Jersey City from Newark.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/25/16


This photo shows Newark's Ironbound and Jersey City, including the Liberty Science Center tower, as seen from the Newark Skylab.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/24/16


This photo shows Warren Street in Newark. A Newark firehouse can be seen in the distance.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

PHOTOS: President Obama Honors Arts and Humanities Medal Recipients



Washington, District of Columbia: President Barack Obama honored the recipients of the 2015 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal at a ceremony in the East Room of The White House in Washington on Thursday.

Two of the honorees are from New Jersey. James McBride, of Lambertville in Hunterdon County, and Elaine Pagels, of Princeton in Mercer County, were both recipients of the National Humanities Medal. McBride, an author, was honored for "humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America" and Pagels, a Princeton University professor, was honored for "her study of ancient manuscripts and other scholarly work"

Other honorees included Mel Brooks, Berry Gordy, Audra McDonald, and Terry Gross.


Above: Mel Brooks receives the National Medal of Arts

Above: Berry Gordy hugs Mel Brooks after receiving his award

Above: Preston Whiteway accepts the National Medal of Arts on behalf of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center

Above: Louis Menand shakes President Obama's hand before accepting the National Humanities Award

Above: President Obama meets Elaine Pagels

Above: President Obama awards Elaine Pagels

Above: President Obama hugs Isabel Wilkerson

Above: President Obama waves to the crowd at the conclusion of the ceremony

Above: Berry Gordy at the conclusion of an interview

Above: President Obama meets members of the audience

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Photo of the Day 9/23/16


This photo shows the view of Newark Airport and the Goethals Bridge from the Newark Skylab.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/22/16


This photo shows Halsey Street in Downtown Newark.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/21/16


This photo shows the Griffith Building and Military Park in Newark.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Design Store Opens in Maplewood



Maplewood, New Jersey: A new design store recently opened in Maplewood.

Avian and John opened to customers last month at 1857 Springfield Avenue, between Yale Street and Princeton Street, within the Elite Plaza Suite Building. A grand opening celebration was held on August 12th, and according to the business Instagram account, the store will be holding a weekly Artisan Market this fall with local vendors in the rear parking lot. The store sells a variety of furniture, custom signs, and other items.

Owners Avian and John Carraby used to run the BKLYN WEST pop-up store in Maplewood Village, and are also vendors at Brooklyn Flea.

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Charter School Plans to Open Facility in Downtown Newark Building


Newark, New Jersey: One of Newark's largest charter school organizations is planning to open a facility in another city building.

North Star Academy is proposing to renovate the building located across from Washington Park at 16-18 Washington Place, at the corner of Halsey Street, in Downtown Newark. According to a legal notice, NSA 18 Washington Place, LLC, which is registered out of the Robin Hood Foundation, has applied to the Newark Central Planning Board to install three classrooms and renovate the existing office space in the building. The installation of an internal connection to the neighboring North Star building at 10-14 Washington Place is also planned. "The classrooms and administrative office space in the Building will be used in connection with the existing, adjacent middle school", the notice reports.

The board will hear the proposal on Monday, September 26th at 6:30pm at Newark City Hall. 

North Star Academy is already planning to renovate a former industrial building near West Side Park to create a new location for an 800-student school.

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Photo of the Day 9/20/16


This photo shows the Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark, previously home to the Newark Bears.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

New Warehouse Planned for Newark 'Wasteland'


Newark, New Jersey: A new warehouse could be coming to Newark.

Penford Group, based in the Oldwick section of Tewksbury Township, Hunterdon County, has applied to the Newark Central Planning Board to construct a warehouse at 256 Vanderpool Street in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark's East Ward, between Avenue B and Avenue C. According to a public notice, should the project be approved, the warehouse will be 290,063 square feet, and will also contain office space.

The property is located in an industrial part of the southern section of the neighborhood, and is across the Oak Island Rail Yard from Northern State Prison. For many years, the fenced-off lot has sat vacant, with abandoned parts of a building that once stood there left exposed. Vanderpool Street once ran through the middle of the tract, but the block has also been fenced off for at least a decade. According to Law360, pigment processing plants operated by DuPont and Cookson Pigments operated at the site from 1917 to 1999. DuPont and the City of Newark settled a lawsuit in 2015 regarding pollution caused by the plant and the property. 

A statement from the City last year said that the property "is now a sprawling, derelict, hazardous 14-acre wasteland".

The board will hear the proposal on Monday, September 26th at 6:30pm at Newark City Hall at 920 Broad Street.

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PSE&G Plans Electric Facility in Newark's East Ward

Image result for "pse&g" "placenj"

Newark, New Jersey: The region's largest utility company is proposing several projects in the Newark area.

PSE&G is planning to construct a power station in an industrial area of Newark's East Ward not far from the Newark Bay and the Essex County Correctional Facility. According to a legal notice, the company has applied to the Newark Central Planning Board to construct a facility at 611-661 Doremus Avenue, near the corner of Wilson Avenue. The proposal, which will be heard at City Hall by the board on Monday, September 26th at 6:30pm, calls for a 960 square foot control building, two new power and light transformers, six breaker/disconnect switch combo units, nine 65-foot lightning masts, and 11 lightning rods.

According to NJ Parcels, the site is owned by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, which operates a treatment plant on adjacent property along Wilson Avenue.

In addition, another legal notice states that PSE&G is involved in the Circuit A-2306 230 kV Underground Transmission Project, and is constructing a new 230kV underground transmission line from the West Orange Switching Station at the corner of Mount Pleasant and Prospect Avenues to the McCarter Switching Station at 11th and Littleton Avenues in Newark. The company is requesting to "discharge treated groundwater from dewatering activities associated with the construction of the Circuit A-2306 230 kV Underground Transmission Project" into a storm drain inlet at Springdale Avenue and Ellington Street in East Orange's Ampere neighborhood.

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Housing Demonstrations to be Held in Newark



Newark, New Jersey: A series of events regarding housing in the City of Newark will be held this week.

According to the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC), #OurCityOurHomes will be a '36-hour celebration' lasting from 9:00am on Tuesday, September 20th to 9:00pm on Wednesday, September 21st. An event description by the ICC states that "we need strong rent control, new affordable homes through inclusionary zoning, and the preservation of all existing affordable housing in our city".

The program flyer asks that interested attendees "join residents in the kick off to the National #RentersDayofAction for dignity and respect by celebrating recent tenant victories across the city". Events will be held on the steps of City Hall on Broad Street, and will include an opening rally, teach-ins regarding rent control, housing cooperatives, and more, an open mic, a party with DJs, a sleep-in, a march and rally, storytelling, and a hearing of citizens.

Event organizers did not return a request for comment.

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Photo of the Day 9/19/16


State Street in Bloomfield is one of the last cobblestone streets in Essex County.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Two Years After Teacher Nicole Dufault's Arrest, Case Still Has Not Gone to Trial


Above: Police investigate at Columbia High School after Nicole Dufault's arrest

Maplewood, New Jersey: Two years after a local high school teacher was arrested, the case has still not gone to trial.

Essex County Place broke the news two years ago today that Columbia High School teacher Nicole Dufault, of Caldwell, was charged with sexually assaulting three 15-year-old students on the property of the Maplewood campus in 2013 and 2014. Since then, Dufault was charged with the alleged sexual assaults of three more students both on and off campus, and is currently facing more than 40 counts. She was indicted in February of 2015.

Dufault's shared classroom, B238, was searched by investigators and was closed off to students following her arrest. A sign posted on the door declared the room to be "unusable". The classroom, located along Academy Street next to an underutilized stairwell, is now being used by other teachers.

The day following Dufault's arrest, Columbia High School Principal Elizabeth Aaron announced to students that the school would be "in the news" for a few months. Dufault was released on $500,000 bail from the Essex County Correctional Facility less than two months after charges were filed.

When she was employed, Dufault told students due to an alleged illness that she faced, doctors recommended that she move to Arizona so that she would not be impactedHer attorney, Timothy Smith, stated last year that frontal lobe syndrome "has rendered her defenseless to over-aggressive behavior, and that is exactly what she was exposed to". Dufault was reportedly diagnosed with the syndrome after undergoing brain surgery at a local hospital. 

Dufault taught students in 9th and 10th grades during the school year, and was part of the summer 'Bridge to Success' program. She would frequently discuss the alleged disease in class, and would allow students to follow her Instagram account. The account has since been deleted.

At her arraignment in April, 2015, Smith stated that Dufault would apply for pre-trial intervention, and Gina Iosim of the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said that a deal that would include a 15-year prison sentence in exchange for a guilty plea would be offered.

In the time since, Dufault's former supervisor, Janine Gregory, has left the South Orange Maplewood School District, and is now the English supervisor for the North Plainfield School District in Somerset County. Gregory told Essex County Place in 2015 that she "can't participate in any interviews".

Similar cases in Northern New Jersey have ended in far less time. A former West Orange High School teacher charged with sexual assault pleaded guilty less than a year after being charged, and a former West Morris Mendham High School teacher, who was also represented by Smith, pleaded guilty 14 months after being charged.


Above: B238, Nicole Dufault's classroom

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Photo of the Day 9/18/16


Bloomfield continues to see an increase in development, including the Avalon Bloomfield Station on the right.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/17/16


This sculpture is located in Bloomfield Center.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Local Non-Profit Service for Visually Impaired Residents Could Shut Down



South Orange, New Jersey: A local organization is in danger of shutting down if funds are not raised immediately.

EIES of New Jersey, or Electronic Information and Education Service, has been serving visually impaired residents of Essex County and beyond for over four decades. Several volunteers regularly read current stories from websites, newspapers, and magazines for broadcast on the EIES website and over the air for listeners with special receivers so that area residents who are unable to read due to a disability can still learn the latest news and events. Some segments are taped live, while others are prerecorded. 

However, the organization is in need of funding, or it could soon close. A post on the EIES Facebook page states that "EIES was established in 1974 to assist the visually impaired community and now, on their 42nd birthday are in danger of closing their doors permanently". An email to readers states that the organization's largest benefactor has passed away, and that "at this time, EIES has no money and may not be able to continue serving the visually impaired community". The email also states that a meeting will be held on Monday to discuss the organization's fate.

Click here to learn how to contribute.

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Joe's Crab Shack Closes in Downtown Newark



Newark, New Jersey: After just three years in the city, the Downtown Newark location of a national restaurant franchise has permanently closed.

It was announced in June that the Joe's Crab Shack restaurant within the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 860 Broad Street would be closing its doors. This week, the final meals were served at the location, and it is no longer listed on the company's website. The Newark location was the only Joe's Crab Shack in Essex County, and Clifton, Passaic County is now home to the closest restaurant.

Despite the massive increase in retailers coming to Downtown Newark, all of the other storefronts along Broad Street within the hotel have remained vacant since the building opened in 2012. The former restaurant space is now available for lease.

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Photo of the Day 9/16/16


This photo shows Riverfront Stadium and the NJ Transit bridge in Newark.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/15/16


This photo shows the Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield Center.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/14/16


This photo shows Downtown Newark as seen from the First Watchung Mountain in West Orange. The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower in Downtown Brooklyn can be seen in the distance.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Photo of the Day 9/13/16


This photo shows the Stickel and NJ Transit Bridges over the Passaic River in Newark.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Family Success Center Opens in Newark's South Ward


Newark, New Jersey: A new resource for local families has opened in Newark.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Weequahic Family Success Center was held on August 23rd in the South Ward of the city. The center, managed by the Newark Emergency Services for Families, Inc. organization, is located at 1065 Bergen Street, between Lyons Avenue and Harding Terrace. 

Several free events are planned for the center this month, including a grandparent support group on September 13, a poetry jam on September 16, Fire Prevention Day on September 17, and a career development group meeting on September 23.

Donations for the center are accepted at the West Essex Tribune office in Livingston.

Other family success centers in Essex County include East Orange Family Success Center on Evergreeen Place, the Ironbound Community Corporation Family Success Center on Cortland Street, the FOCUS Family Success Center on Broad Street in Newark, and the Irvington Family Development Center Family Success Center on Union Avenue.

The space was previously occupied by Dee-Von's Just For You and New Way Supermarket.

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Are Changes Coming to Essex Green in West Orange?


West Orange, New Jersey: 
Changes might be coming to a suburban Essex County shopping plaza. 

According to a listing from Ripco Real Estate, redevelopment is planned for the Essex Green Shopping Center, located along Prospect Avenue near Exit 8 on Route 280. The listing features images of a potentially redesigned plaza, which is currently one of the largest in the county.

Businesses currently located at Essex Green include ShopRite, Sears Outlet, AMC Theaters, Total Wine and More, and Panera Bread. However, it appears that many businesses at the shopping center may soon be closing. The Ripco listing states that the spaces occupied by Petco, Gamestop, Torrid, Dress Barn, Dress Barn Woman, RadioShack, Essex Green Cleaners, GNC, and H&R Block will soon be available.

Despite this, Stephanie Wilson of Petco told Essex County Place last month that "to our knowledge, the West Orange store is not set to be closed at this time".

Some businesses at Essex Green have already closed or downsized. The Essex Grand Buffet and Citibank closed earlier this year, and Macy's downsized its 40-year-old department store into a Macy's Backstage location.

Areas nearby are seeing redevelopment. LA Fitness opened one of the region's largest gyms across the street last year, and a Cambria Suites hotel is reportedly planned for a nearby lot.

Earlier this year, Essex Green was sold to Clarion Partners by RREEF America for $97,850,000, according to NJ Parcels.

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