Monday, March 20, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Polytrauma Center Could Come to Newark's West Ward

Newark, New Jersey: A lot on the border of Newark's West Ward and Irvington that has been vacant for close to a decade could soon see new use.

Carmelo G. Garcia, the Executive Vice President and Chief Real Estate Officer of Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (Newark CEDC), told Essex County Place exclusively that a polytrauma center is being proposed for the lot at 552-572 South Orange Avenue, located just east of the Garden State Parkway at the corner of Grove Street. The center, which would include housing for veterans and potentially assisted living, would rise where the Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery and the Hoffman soda factory stood for over 75 years. The complex, which was known for a water tower atop the plant that was designed to look like a bottle, was demolished in 2008. In the years since, Grove Street which runs down the middle of the property, has been moved further east, and the lot has been vacant and gated. 

Then, at the end of 2015, the Newark CEDC issued a request for proposals seeking developments that would "enhance the quality of life for Newark residents, create employee opportunities for Newark residents, (and) generate new tax revenue for the City." Now, although there were multiple plans for the site, including one posted by Inglese Architecture and Engineering for a mixed-use community with 200 residential units and 20,000 square feet of retail space, it appears that such a development has been found. 

Garcia stated that the project, which could create close to 1,000 jobs, "would breathe more life into the West Ward," explaining that existing businesses in the area would benefit from the increase in customer traffic. The center would be contracted by the Veterans Administration to a private operator, according to Garcia, who said that it would create "phenomenal" tax revenue for the City.

Before any construction can begin, Garcia says that there is currently a due diligence period, and that the site will require remediation. Cleanup of the property could take around six months, according to Garcia, who stated that Pabst Blue Ribbon would be responsible for handling the removal of underground contamination or soil contamination.

"This is incredible and historic for Newark," Garcia said, adding that "we are, by far, leading, in the state of New Jersey in the area of converting brownfields or blighted and dormant vacant land into really productive uses, which is really unheard of at the pace that we're doing it."

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