Change is coming quickly for Newark, New Jersey, where many are pegging the long-troubled city for a renaissance akin to Brooklyn’s. In January, city officials and developers unveiled their plans for Mulberry Commons, a 22-acre development in Newark’s downtown that would not only bring forth new residential, commercial, and office space*, but also a three-acre park and a High Line-style pedestrian bridge that would connect the Ironbound neighborhood to Newark Penn Station and the central business district. According to the Newark Department of Economic & Housing Development, the city is expected to benefit in excess of $500 million from the project.
However, rail or not, both the city and the developers of Mulberry Commons are hoping to channel the same High Line magic that transformed Manhattan’s West Side into a modern gold coast of eight-figure, starchitect-designed condos, lofty rents, galleries and high-end retail—all fed by ever-increasing foot traffic and wealthy residents.
Image: Mulberry Commons Park. Perkins Eastman Architects
Ironically, Mulberry Commons’ prime developer, Edison Properties, has not always been supportive of elevated parks.
For years, Edison’s chairman, Jerry Gottesman, lobbied to have the rail upon which the High Line Park sits demolished. Gottesman owned an entire block bisected by the elevated rail and reportedly had his staff mail debris that had fallen onto his property from the tracks to local officials as a way to contest its presence.
Gottesman reportedly only later changed his view of the prospective park when the city rezoned the area to allow for greater density on certain parcels and the transfer of development rights. Gottesman, via Edison, would eventually sell his parcel for a whopping $870 million in 2015 (it was originally purchased in the 1980s).
In all, Edison Properties currently owns six sites that surround the planned Mulberry Commons Park and a vacant warehouse in the middle of the development. Edison is pouring $80 million into the warehouse conversion, which will be turned into retail and office space, and the developer also plans to invest another $20 million in the park and bridge. The bridge, when completed, will place anyone using the connection at the doorstep of the warehouse development.
*Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble and a Rutgers University arts incubator were part of the Mulberry Commons development. They are in fact part of the Hahne & Co. Building redevelopment located at neighboring 609 Broad Street, just north of the Mulberry Commons site.
- So+So Studio reimagines an abandoned Jersey City railroad as an elevated public park
- The Liberty Bridge would connect Jersey City to Battery Park City in High Line-esque fashion
- The Bronx may get is own Lowline-style park at abandoned Mott Haven rail tracks
Images via Sage and Coombe Architects unless otherwise noted
Neighborhoods : newark