Friday, August 19, 2016

Little Progress at Site of Proposed Newark Development

Newark, New Jersey: Over a year after signs advertising a new development were posted in Newark's East Ward, no construction has begun at the site.

Last summer, posters were placed at 769-781 McCarter Highway/Route 21 in Downtown Newark, at the southwest corner of Market Street, describing New Brunswick-based Boraie Development's plans for a new building with up to 500,000 square feet of mixed use office and retail space available. However, the site, located near Newark Penn Station and the site of the new Triangle Park, currently remains a parking lot.

According to a resolution from a May meeting of the Newark Housing Authority (NHA), the NHA Board of Commissioners authorized Executive Director Keith Kinard to execute an amended and restated redevelopment agreement with Boraie to remove NHA affiliate Newark Plaza Development, LLC as a co-redeveloper of the property. A $750,000 "administrative fee" will be received by the NHA. Every commissioner who was present at the meeting voted for the proposal. 

The Newark Housing Authority used to own the property, but sold it to Boraie for $4,000,000 in 2012, according to NJ Parcels.

An ordinance passed in July by the Newark Municipal Council calls for "the Mayor and/or Deputy Mayor/Director of the Department of Economic and Housing Development, to enter into an Assignment and Assumption Agreement with the Housing Authority for the City of Newark to assume the Redevelopment Agreement and further authorizing them to revise and execute an amendment to the Redevelopment Agreement with Boraie Development".

Essex County Place reported last month that the authority had not published a single board meeting agenda on the 'Transparency Documents' page of its website in over a year. After the report was published, documents from recent NHA meetings were posted. 

Boraie and Shaquille O'Neal are the developers of the One Rector Street project near the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. That development has not made significant progress since a groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2013. Records from the State of New Jersey show that company founder Omar Boraie donated over $10,000 to the 2010 Booker Team for Newark, and at the 2013 groundbreaking, Sen. Cory Booker, Newark's mayor at the time, participated in the ceremonial lifting of the shovels with Omar Boraie.

The state records also show that Kinard, who is one of the highest paid public employees in Newark, donated $1,000 to Mayor Ras Baraka's 2014 campaign, and The Record newspaper reported that the Boraie family "has contributed more than $463,000 since 1981 to state and federal political candidates and committees from New Jersey".

Both O'Neal and Boraie are also the co-owners of the Cityplex 12 movie theater on Springfield Avenue.

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