NEWARK, NJ - Since Prudential Center opened in October 2007, Newark officials have been promising a tantalizing bit of green space that would have stretched from Mulberry Street to a railroad trestle that crosses over Route 21.
But for the last decade, the promised Triangle Park has remained a vacant stretch of derelict blight, used mainly for parking cars.
Newark officials on Jan. 18 rebranded Triangle Park as Mulberry Commons and promised a “transformative” (a favorite word of former Mayor Cory Booker) $100 million project that will turn the 22-acre parcel into a park flanked on either side by retail establishments and commercial spaces.
"The development of Mulberry Commons and the Mulberry Commons Park will be a major asset for the City of Newark," Mayor Ras J. Baraka stated. "This project represents another step towards showing the best of what our City has to offer.”
Taxpayers will have to put up about 10 percent to fund the project, but Baraka promised the project would not only “enhance our tax base and boost our economy, but it will also bring jobs, commerce, housing and green space for all Newarkers to enjoy.”
Much of the land around the park is owned by parking lot magnate Jerry Gottesman, chairman of Edison Properties, who will be responsible for developing the office and retail side.
“The Mulberry Commons project is the culmination of a planning process that began in 2005,” Gottesman said. “At Edison Properties, we’re excited to continue working with the Mayor’s office and the City to move our new ‘Ironside Newark’ office and retail project forward to further the successful transformation of downtown Newark.”
One of the commercial properties will be developed by J&L Companies Inc.
“The Mayor, his team and the City Council should be commended for their efforts in getting this project off the ground,” said Jose Lopez, principal of J&L Companies, Inc. “The creation of the park, bridge connection, and the developments that will follow will usher in a new era of growth and revitalization for the area.”
The specific details of what Gottesman and Lopez will develop on their properties was not revealed.
Prudential Center, and more specifically those who attend events at the Rock, would benefit tremendously from the park and the addition of restaurants and bars.
“As Prudential Center prepares to celebrate 10 years in Newark this fall, we could not be more proud to be a part of the dramatic change that continues to take place around us,” said Hugh Weber, president of the New Jersey Devils & Prudential Center.
Anthony McMillan, CEO of the Newark Downtown District, said the park “will be highly programmed and impeccably maintained” by his organization. A pedestrian footbridge over Route 21, currently an unused railroad trestle, will connect the park to the Ironbound neighborhood.
“We look forward to giving residents, visitors, and commuters a clean, green, social environment that will essentially function as a both a shared backyard and a destination – a place to meet with friends, relax, and enjoy great events," McMillan said.