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Streetscape Improvement Project Seeks to Energize, Green Downtown Newark (NJ)

The Newark Downtown District Streetscape Improvement Project is a $17.5 million effort to upgrade 56 blocks of downtown Newark, New Jersey. The project broke ground back in June and includes three distinct phases over the course of the next three years. The first phase, which wrapped up back in October, included areas adjacent to the new Prudential Center arena (now home to the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils) on Market Street, Mulberry Street, and Edison Place. New York-based BRV Corporation and Stantec/Vollmer of Newark and New York designed the project; the group has collaborated previously on streetscape improvement projects around Grand Central Station, Bryant Park, and 34th Street in Manhattan.

The scope of the project contemplates new lighting, benches, street trees, corner treatments, and signage in order to help increase local pedestrian flow. The frames of each bench will be manufactured by Toronto-based Soheil Mosun Ltd. with recycled steel. 36-gallon capacity trash receptacles (the Urban Renaissance model from Forms + Surfaces of Carpentiera, California) will be installed throughout the District, which are also manufactured with recycled steel. Depending on the character of each particular street in the District, four different types of trees will be planted with corresponding tree pits and flower beds.

Newark, the third-oldest city in the U.S. and the largest in New Jersey, offers developers some unique urban infill opportunities that are inherently green. Easily accessible by mass transit and with a stock of existing buildings, Mayor Cory Booker is committed to turning the city’s fortunes around. It is not difficult to imagine that Newark will slowly transform in ways similar to Jersey City and Hoboken, each of which once suffered from many of the same ills with which Newark currently grapples.

Projects like the Streetscape Improvement are a critical first step to attracting pedestrian traffic and the street-level activity necessary for development. In fact, one of the five projects in New Jersey that qualified for USGBC’s LEED for Neighborhood Development Pilot Program- the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District- is located in Newark, just south of the Prudential Center. Each of these important projects will continue to attract new visitors and businesses to Newark in 2008, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on each of them through the course of the New Year.

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