NEWARK, NJ - New county offices, courtrooms and a 900-car parking deck will be built in Newark to expand and modernize the Essex County Hall of Records Complex.
County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo announced the new $24 million parking deck will be the first in a series of new projects constructed off West Market Street.
The county is also scheduled next month to purchase two office buildings at 320 and 321 University Ave., where all offices in the Division of Family Assistance and Benefits will be consolidated. A new 150,000 square-foot building in the juror’s parking lot off Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard will also be constructed to house 11 courtrooms.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said the cooperation and partnership with the Superior Court and other constitutional offices helped move the massive project forward. The county’s Aaa bond rating that was earned last year also helped it to receive the lowest interest rates to fund the project.
“We are always looking for ways to make doing business with Essex County easier, more user-friendly and simpler to navigate,” DiVincenzo said in a statement. “The construction of the parking deck is the first of several phases that will expand our parking and office space to provide better conditions for our employees and people visiting the complex.”
Construction for the new parking decking is scheduled to begin in April and expected to be completed in November.
The West Market Street parking deck will be designated for employee parking. The new deck and the updated surface lot will become available for public use around the time regular business hours end. There are no pay stations at the West Market Street lot, a county spokesman said, and Essex County College students mainly use the current lot that is there.
The new parking deck will have six levels. The side of the deck that faces the Essex County Veterans Courthouse and Essex County LeRoy F. Smith, Jr. Public Safety Building will have a glass façade to make the structure look like an office building.
Vehicles will enter the garage through the current driveway adjacent to Essex County Veterans Memorial Park. A second entrance for a surface parking area will be located off of West Market Street across from the Essex County College Athletic Building.
“I am amazed at the plans the County Executive comes up with to continue to improve Essex County,” Freeholder Patricia Sebold said. “I eagerly await the completion of this parking deck that will be part of the transformation of this complex.”
The project is being funded through the Essex County Capital Budget, according to a release from the county.
Comito Associates from Newark was awarded a $550,000 contract to design the parking deck and improvements to the remaining surface lot. Terminal Construction from Wood Ridge, N.J., was awarded a publicly bid contract for about $23.5 million to perform the construction work.
The two office buildings at University Avenue which will now house all the Division of Family Assistance and Benefits offices were once used as a Bank of America customer service center. The assistance and benefits offices are currently located at 18 Rector St. and the Hall of Records.
Meanwhile, 11 new courtrooms will be built in the juror’s parking lot off Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard for the third part of the project. The new building will be used for the Essex Vicinage of Superior Court and offices for the county clerk, surrogate, register, board of taxation and board of elections.
Those offices are all currently housed at the Hall of Records. Once it is vacated, those empty spaces will be renovated for landlord-tenant court and other county departments.
“What we have seen changed at this complex is tremendous,” Deputy Chief of Staff William Payne said in a statement. “These are positive changes that are making it better for our employees and the members of (the) public who visit here.”