Is Newark the new Brooklyn?
Newark is not Brooklyn. The market forced Brooklyn to become one of the most expensive counties in the country. The development in Newark is being done very differently. It’s very deliberate. And we have local residents in mind.
We are pushing an inclusionary zoning ordinance that requires developers to have affordable units in all of their residential construction. Take the Hahne & Co. project, for example. The [residential] development in that building has a 40% affordability clause in it. We’re not displacing people. So it’s really not accurate to say that we’re gentrifying these neighborhoods. We’re going to make a better Newark for the residents of this city.
What do you say to those who are skeptical?
You can’t just be against development and not for the betterment of the conditions we’ve been living in. We’re being very creative about how we’re making these things happen and we need you to be involved. We need you to take part in making this happen, not be cynical about it on social media.
Many of us have the privilege of going shopping and to restaurants in South Orange, Livingston or New York City—while the majority of Newark residents have to go to overpriced, poor quality establishments. We can no longer tolerate that. We have to create better places to shop and to live, better opportunities for work. And that’s what we’re doing.
How is development going to benefit low-income residents?
We’re creating cooperatives in the city of Newark, getting direct sales from the federal government so people are able to buy homes at low rates. We’re continuing to make Newark property available to Newark residents at low prices and get residents the financing they need. And we’re working with corporations to hire more Newark residents, get them to invest in Newark businesses, and get their employees to live in Newark.
Newark residents deserve great stores and restaurants. They deserve to have a nightlife. They deserve places to live that aren’t rat-infested, or where the ceiling isn’t falling in, or that doesn’t contain lead and asbestos. And we’re going to fight for them to get these things.