Shaq back in Newark to announce new jobs initiative

Shaq back in Newark to announce new jobs initiative

Interesting tie-in with O’Neal’s One Rector Street building project. (A project which has been fraught with delays since its announcement in 2013.)

Former professional basketball player and Newark native Shaquille O’Neal was back in town Tuesday to announce the creation of IMPACT Newark, a program designed to help minorities, women and veterans secure union construction jobs for projects in the city.

The hope is that program participants will begin to work on Boraie Development’s $65 million One Rector Street project, which O’Neal is backing.

The project calls for a 23-story, 169-unit residential tower featuring ground-floor retail space that officials say will be Newark’s first high-rise in over a half-century.

“I was born and raised in Newark,” O’Neal said Tuesday at news conference at City Hall. “In some ways, I never left Newark. This project is a symbol of my love of the city that shaped who I am today.”

NorthJersey.com writes AirTrain’s obituary

Newark AirTrain’s demise comes as no surprise

North Jersey writes a detailed obituary for the notoriously unreliable AirTrain—if a bit premature. While acknowledging the broken system fraught with delays and mechanical failures, the Port Authority is planning to keep the service running until 2022, when it will be replaced with a (hopefully) more robust solution.

When the AirTrain monorail opened at Newark International Airport in 1996, it was viewed as an engineering marvel. Finally, the airport’s old fleet of bouncy, slow, diesel-fuming jitney buses had been replaced by a sleek train passing silently overhead.

But AirTrain Newark was never reliable. And that should have come as no surprise to the people responsible for bringing it to the airport. They knew because they were told by the man who sold it to them.

“It was a system that had not been run previously in the snow,” said Paul H. Wyss, now 80 and retired for 20 years. He conceived the project in the early 1990s when he was chief of American operations for Von Roll Transport. “Everybody knew ahead of time that there would be issues with snow and snow removal,” he said.

That proved to be an understatement. Even before AirTrain was finished, the Port Authority had serious problems clearing snow and ice, which delayed the monorail’s opening. Those issues — plus a half-dozen more — grew worse over the next two decades.

(Photo credit: Port Authority)

Sale of Ironbound lot could pave way for new era in iconic Newark neighborhood

Sale of Ironbound lot could pave way for new era in iconic Newark neighborhood

Exciting development, and fun to imagine what could go here.

The owners of the famed Iberia restaurant placed the 5.2-acre site on the open market earlier this month, and are courting developers who may see it as a prime parcel for a high-rise office or residential tower.

Frank Giantomasi, a real estate attorney with Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi who is representing the owners in the potential sale, said the site – with frontage on major thoroughfares Market Street and Ferry Street – could be key in the city’s plans to attract new professionals seeking both easy access to Newark Penn Station and amenities including restaurants, shopping and nightlife.

The Iberia property is currently home to both the restaurant and two storage facilities, but is mostly occupied by blacktop parking spaces, which city officials have often lamented as a deterrent to major development as they look to create a transit-oriented district similar to what has sprung up around the PATH station in Harrison.

Rutgers University-Newark, National Urban Leaders Unveil Action Plan for Historic Preservation

Rutgers University-Newark, National Urban Leaders Unveil Action Plan for Historic Preservation

Rutgers hosted a summit in which the Hahne building was identified as a national model for historic preservation last week.

During that summit, some of the broad plans for the collaborative art space in the building were shared. It sounds amazing.

The challenge to legacy cities, says Cantor, is to preserve the stories of past generations while incorporating the voices of new generations, which is “precisely what we have in mind with our university-community collaboratory we are developing in the Hahne & Company building and precisely why we think the name of our collaboratory, ‘Express Newark,’ is so apt. We are thrilled to be working with the Preservation Rightsizing Network to advance this shared agenda.”

Cantor detailed plans for Express Newark, including a community media center, a gallery, studios for portrait photography, book arts and printing, and performance space. A 2017 opening date is envisioned.

(Photo credit: Rutgers-Newark)

This Week: Newark Pop Up Downtown Holiday Market

Newark Pop Up Downtown Holiday Market

This looks really awesome, especially for Newarkers looking for locally crafted gifts.

This week, an eclectic group of local designers, artists and creatives set up shop at 744 Broad Street and introduced shoppers to the Downtown Holiday Market. The market is the brainchild of residential and commercial real estate agent Melvin Sykes, who regularly arranges for vacant retail spaces to be transformed into pop-up boutiques for burgeoning fashion brands.

ll host a “sip-and-shop” launch event today from 6–9pm. Open from 11am–8pm Monday through Saturday and running through January 1, the market offers downtown shoppers fresh alternatives for winter fashion and holiday gift giving. In addition to exclusive collections from area designers, shoppers can purchase handcrafted personal care products, jewelry, music and more.

Dedicated teachers can’t provide the whole answer, says Newark’s mayor

Dedicated teachers can’t provide the whole answer, says Newark’s mayor.

Mayor Ras Baraka’s name is on the byline of this piece, so I’m led to believe he either wrote it or heavily influenced it’s writing. So, two things.

Continue reading “Dedicated teachers can’t provide the whole answer, says Newark’s mayor”

Drug trade turf disputes at center of spiking Newark homicide rate, officials say

Drug trade turf disputes at center of spiking Newark homicide rate, officials say

Some will mourn the passing of Darel Evans today, but sadly street violence in Newark has taken the lives of so many more.

The driving force behind the recent surge in violence that’s helped push the city’s homicide total past the 2014 tally is the illegal drug trade, said the city’s police director.

It’s currently unclear how, if at all, the killings are related. While declining to elaborate on the details of the incidents, Venable said that much of the violence is being caused by gang members in the city’s central and south wards.

Newark recorded 111 homicides in 2013, before the annual tally declined in 2014 to 93. But the Monday fatal shooting of Darel “Creep” Evans, who was featured in a Sundance Channel documentary series set in Newark, ensured that the slide will not continue. With Evans’s death, the homicide count now stands at 94.

Brick City Cast Member Shot Dead in Newark

‘Brick City’ Cast Member Shot Dead in Newark, New Jersey

Heartbreaking.

A former gang member turned anti-violence activist who was featured in “Brick City,” a Sundance Channel documentary series set in New Jersey’s largest city, has been shot to death, authorities said Tuesday.

Evans, a reformed Crips gang member known as Creep, was profiled in the Peabody award-winning TV series for turning his life around and for his relationship with a woman from the rival Bloods gang.

“It’s hard to extract yourself from the level of violence in urban America,” said Mark Benjamin, who created both shows along with partner Marc Levin. “As hard as he tried, it caught up with him. He was writing, he was doing comedy and sketches and he had different jobs. He had different children from a few different women. He had lots of love to give. The street caught up with him.”

Noted Newark Schools Seek State OK to Go Charter Route

Noted Newark Schools Seek State OK to Go Charter Route

Technically not a conversion to a charter school: the plan is to formally close the two schools in question in the South Ward and open as a new charter school.

Still, a remarkable change, especially given last week’s announcement planning to broaden the use of the $100M Zuckerberg donation for the public school system.

If the new Achieve Community Charter School is approved, it would be the first time that a public school in New Jersey is converted to a charter school.

The change would add fuel to the ongoing and sometime acrimonious debate over the relationship between public schools and charters – a debate that it perhaps most intense in Newark. What’s more, the proposed switch comes at a time when school district leaders are looking to improve the city’s South Ward schools – including BRICK – to better serve their neighborhoods.