Education

REBUILDING SHU: Seton Hall's Land Used to Extend Beyond Current Campus Boundaries

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In the 1920s, Seton Hall University sold the land where the Ivy Hill apartment complex stands today. Credits: Assie Bangura
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Seton Hall University has leased some of its land to the Essex County parks system. Credits: Assie Bangura
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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Seton Hall University was not always confined to the fence that surrounds and confines the campus today.

In years past, Seton Hall branched out to several different locations throughout Northern New Jersey, including South Orange, East Orange, Newark, Paterson and Jersey City.

  • REBUILDING SHU: Part 10 of 11. Seton Hall University embarks on the biggest campus renovation in a generation, hoping to make life better for students without making life worse for residents of South Orange. Read Part 9: Open Space.

Except for the 58-acre main campus, most of that land is long gone, which is  causing great difficulty as the university attempts to  rebuild itself in order to accommodate a growing student body and an intensifying demand for modern facilities.

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The university is surrounded by what today would be considered lost opportunities to expand, land it once owned but for various reasons let slip through its hands.

“The University was struggling economically and had to sell the lands, which helped maintain its economic status,” said Alan B. Deloizer, university archivist.  

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center, located on Tremont Avenue in East Orange, Ivy Hill Park Apartments in Newark, located behind the Owen T. Carroll Baseball Field, and land where businesses now stand on South Orange Avenue all were once owned by Seton Hall University. 

And the Kricklewood Inn, located on Centre Street, has been sold and bought back three times from the university, DeLoizer said.

John Signorello, associate vice president for facilities and operations, said that there have been plenty of second thoughts about all the property that the university has given up.

“If the land had not been sold there (would) be more housing, a bigger recreation center, a new basketball venue, a concert venue and more,” Signorello said.

Of all the lost opportunities, none is more taunting than the 31 acres beneath the Ivy Hill apartment complex in Newark, adjacent to Seton Hall and visible from many parts of the campus. The complex is the largest privately owned residential complex in the state. It consists of 10 buildings, each 14 stories tall, that house a population of 10,000 residents, which is a number greater than the total enrollment at Seton Hall.

Seton Hall sold the land in the 1920s and though it no longer owns the property, it does maintain a connection with Ivy Hill. Each year, a number of students try to reduce their housing costs by leasing apartments in the Ivy Hill complex instead of living on campus.

The university also gave up some of its land far more recently than the 1920s, though some would consider it a net gain rather than a lost opportunity.  Ivy Hill Park, which is part of the Essex County park system, abuts the university near the parking deck and athletic fields. In 1986, Seton Hall signed a 25-year no-cost lease agreement with the county for one acre of university property adjacent to the park that contains six tennis courts.

Under the terms of the deal, the county rehabilitated the courts and made them available for public use. In exchange, Seton Hall is allowed to use the fields in the 19-acre park for its own sports, including the softball team.

This series was reported and written by the Advanced Reporting class at Seton Hall University. This article was written by Assie Bangura, a May 2013 graduate.

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