NEWARK, NJ - Hassan Keith grew up in the city’s James Baxter Terrace public housing, and now he's come back to unveil a 24-unit condominium complex on Clinton Avenue he helped build.
Keith teamed up with the NFL's Mike Adams to form the Mid-Atlantic Investment Alliance development company along with two others. Today, they cut the ribbon on the new Lofts at Lincoln Park Condominiums with city officials.
“For me, it's great to be here to provide an example to pioneer a project like this in my city,” said Keith, who now lives in Brooklyn.
Keith has come a long way. The new condos at 90 Clinton Ave. are just a 10-minute drive from his former home at Baxter Terrace. He attended former Burnet Street Elementary School and later Central High School before heading off to Rutgers-New Brunswick.
Baxter Terrace was one of the first public housing facilities built in the 1940's and closed about a decade ago. Parts of the former building were sent to the Smithsonian museum in Washington.
Keith, along with Victor Baker, Michael Bunton and Adams, worked as the developers and contractors for the project. The four-story building was praised by city officials because it was built by certified minority and black-owned enterprises.
Newark Economic and Housing Development Director Carmelo Garcia said the project is part of the city's “renaissance” and will coincide with a $1.3 million investment of the nearby Lincoln Park that the mayor is championing.
“I'm always honored and humbled and feeling so prideful that we can give back to Newark in this way, and that we can make these kinds of projects so catalytic and (an) anchor to really transform this gateway of Newark,” Garcia said today at the ceremony.
Adams, who plays safety for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL, said he latched on to the project because he wants to see Newark grow.
"With Newark building up, I just had to be a part of it," Adams said.
The building will feature a lounge, fitness center, outdoor green space, bike storage, deeded parking, pass through kitchens and energy efficient appliances.
Twenty-two of the 24 units have already under contract, Adams said. While there are no affordable housing units in the complex, the units go for below-market rate, he added.
Newark’s Economic and Housing Development Corporation pumped $300,000 into the project. The rest of the project was funded by $600,000 from Motor Vehicle Tax funding, a $3.6 million loan from Savoy Bank, other redevelopment grants and equity from the developers.
The overall project came in at a price tag of $7 million, according to the city.