Nestled in the heart of Newark’s downtown arts and education district is a burgeoning commercial and residential community called Teachers Village. A mixed-use community comprised of seven buildings that take up five blocks along Halsey Street, Teachers Village is unique among Newark’s development boom.
The $150 million dollar community, designed by world-renown architect Richard Meier, is distinguished by its education-focused theme. It’s surrounded by six universities and houses a daycare center and three charter schools. And Teachers Village isn’t just a charming name for the development—residential preference will be given to those in the education profession. To date, 70% of the community’s residents work in education.
Of the seven buildings that make up Teachers Village (five have been completed at press time), residential space is being built into four of them. At press time, three of those four buildings have apartments available, totaling 123 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with one-bedrooms going for a little under $1,500 per month.
And along with amenities such as central air conditioning and heat, on-site parking, and a 24-hour fitness center, the buildings are going to be equipped with “smart classrooms” that teachers who live in the community can use to host students after school or as a quiet place to study, perhaps in pursuit of their own advanced degrees.
Teachers Village also boasts 65,000 square feet of retail space that’s already begun to fill up. A variety of goods and services will be available, including banks, clothing stores, convenience and grocery stores, medical facilities, beauty services, and restaurants and eateries.
At press time, about 20 storefronts had already been established. Meet a couple of entrepreneurs who have already moved into the neighborhood.
MEET ISABEL LIVINGSTON, owner of Closet Savvy Consignment in Teachers Village
Name: Isabel Livingston
Business: Closet Savvy Consignment
Location: 37 Maiden Lane, Newark NJ 07102
Isabel Livingston is a Newark native who attended University High School and graduated from Jersey Preparatory before attending Essex County College. Upon graduation she landed a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield as a customer service representative and used her income to purchase her first home at the age of 22 in Orange, NJ.
In 2012, Isabel began Closet Savvy Consignment as an online boutique. In 2016, she moved her designer wears by top designers such as Burberry, Gucci and Balenciaga into the bricks and mortar of Teachers Village in Newark.
“I love it (Teachers Village), I walk to work and I am close to Penn Station and public transportation. People (typically) spend so much time traveling and commuting and I don’t have to do it. I can support the local business community. There are fabulous retailers here. It is literally the best thing since the Internet!”
Isabel grew up in Newark but moved with her daughter in the early 2000s to Maplewood, New Jersey. She moved back in late 2016, in part, because of the city’s new real estate projects. After seeing all the improvements the city was making and exploring some of the new housing options, Isabel settled on Teachers Village. “It seemed like a no-brainer,” she remarked.
MEET TONNIE ROZIER, owner of Tonnie’s Minis Cupcakes
Name: Tonnie Rozier
Business: Tonnie’s Minis
Location: Coming soon to Teachers Villiage, Newark, NJ
“I wasn’t sold on Newark at first, because I never went past Penn Station. But when I started looking around at all these major businesses coming [into town]—I saw an opportunity. Newark’s rich history is why I stayed for over 10 years,” says Tonnie Rozier, owner of Tonnie’s Minis cupcakes that is coming to Teachers Village later this year.
Tonnie was living in the Ironbound section of Newark when he opened his first cupcake shop in Harlem in 2006. He opened another location in the Inwood section of the Bronx in August 2013. But business was growing too big too fast and he found himself struggling to keep up.
Part of the reason Tonnie was able to open his brick and mortar shops was the success of the private and corporate business he’d been cultivating for years. But a large corporate deal he entered into with Dallas BBQ restaurant—Tonnie was to produce 60,000 cupcakes a week for the restaurant chain’s 11 New York City locations—shifted his focus away from his own shops and led to their closing in late 2013.
Tonnie re-opened his Bronx location a few months later but had to close again when the Department of Health indicted him for not having a particular sink. Later in 2014, making savvier business decisions and with the necessary equipment installed, he opened for business again and remains open.
In 2015, Tonnie’s Minis was a featured business on CNBC network’s The Profit,” where show host, businessman and angel investor Marcus Lemonis revamps and revitalizes a small business in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the business. Now, working toward a more stable entrepreneurial base, Tonnie is ready to expand in Teachers Village.
Still living in Newark all this time, Tonnie was approached by a business developer with the idea to re-open in downtown Newark.
“Michael Vann was the go-to guy in the ‘90s if you wanted to open a restaurant. He is the one who told me about Teachers Village and wanted to help me. He truly believed in my product and was a great sounding board and conduit.”
So in 2016, Tonnie moved his wife and two daughters into Teachers Village. He loves that his family is surrounded by educators in what he calls “a melting pot of teachers, each bringing different energy to the table. I know this works!”
Newark’s Teachers Village gives him the sense of community he felt in Harlem, of people coming together to enjoy themselves, then going home in the same neighborhood.
Tonnie plans to employ 11 Newark residents in his store, which open later this year. “I always employ people from the neighborhood where my business is located. I am going to scout the best talent that resides in Newark.”