Construction for warehouse building downtown, to be transformed into ‘Ironside Newark’ retail and office hub, officially begins

Ironside Newark, one of the signature features of the new Mulberry Commons development downtown, got off to its official start earlier this week.

Newark will hold its first-ever downtown living tour in May

What is it like to live downtown Newark? Soon, those who are curious will have an opportunity to get a glimpse of downtown living for themselves.

Newarkers invited to preview of, and Q&A about, Triangle Park development planned for downtown

On Tuesday, January 17th, community stakeholders, including government officials, leaders, non-profit organizations the public at large are invited to participate in a set of live presentations and community feedback sessions about Triangle Park.

A traditional German beer garden prepares to open in Newark this spring

Newly renovated 494 Broad Street revealed to the downtown Washington Park business district

real estateFidelco Realty Group joined Mayor Ras Baraka, and other county, state and city officials, and community leaders to celebrate the addition of 10 stories – including 650 parking spaces, two additional stories for Cablevision’s call center, 4,500 square feet of future retail space, and a renovated lobby — at 494 Broad Street.

The renovation is the most recent project of Fidelco Realty Group’s ongoing renewal projects in the Washington Park market, which they hope to convert into a vibrant commercial, retail and residential destination. The cost of the new building and renovations of the existing structure totaled more than $60 million and includes participation in the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program through the NJEDA; New Market Tax Credits provided by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, New Jersey Community Capital, City Scape Capital; and financing from U.S. Bank.

“494 Broad Street is a critical location contributing to the ongoing growth and vibrancy of Newark’s downtown Washington Park business district,” said Marc E. Berson, chairman of Fidelco Realty Group. “With the New Jersey Transit Broad Street Station, Newark Museum, Newark Public Library, Rutgers Business School, 1 Washington Park office tower, and multiple light rail stops as neighboring assets, potential tenants from near and far are looking at the North Broad Street area of Newark as an ideal location for their business.”

494 RearThe façade of the existing six-story office building has undergone complete resurfacing – replacing existing marble with black granite panels, and adding black awnings around the bases of the building with additional exterior lighting and signage.

“We are proud of Fidelco Realty Group’s work and the 494 Building Extension project. Fidelco has been an outstanding corporate partner in Newark’s growth and development, and this project will bring jobs and economic strength to Newark,” Mayor Baraka said.

Bordered by the Newark Broad Street station, Riverfront Stadium, Rutgers Business School, Washington Park and Fidelco Realty Group’s flagship property – the 1 Washington Park office tower – the building was originally constructed by Mutual Life in the 1960s, and was designed by the architectural firm Frank Grad & Sons.

“Newark’s Washington Park district is a diverse and flourishing area that is rich in history and filled with cultural, educational and business opportunities. The addition of the newly renovated and expanded 494 Broad Street will further strengthen the area, create jobs and contribute to the vitality of the City,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said.

The building now provides a home to a Genova Burns, Cablevision, Fidelco Newark, Leadership Newark, Martini 494 Bistro, Newark Trust for Education, NJ Seeds, and Rutgers University, among other tenants.

Interactive Map: Newark to auction residential and commercial property on November 19th

The City of Newark has announced a public real estate auction to be held Thursday, November 19th at the Terrace Ballroom in Newark Symphony Hall. The auction includes both residential and commercial properties, and starting bids range from $4,950 to $71,730. Properties are available in four of the city’s five wards — no real estate located in the East Ward is included in the auction. This month’s auction follows real estate auctions in September and November of 2014, and a lot sale that took place on Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

Rules of engagement:
  • The city requires all bidders to appear at the auction in person, and purchaser names will not be changed after the date of the auction
  • Any person bidding on behalf of a corporation must present both a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and a letter of authorization of the corporation
  • A person bidding on behalf of a partnership or using a trade name must submit 1) a copy of the Certificate of Trade Name (for those submitting on behalf of a partnership) and 2) a letter of authorization from all other partner(s)
  • All deposits must be made using certified funds only. This excludes cash and personal checks
  • Deposits must be on hand during the auction, as winning bidders will not be able to leave the auction in order to secure certified funds

See the interactive map below for property locations, types (residential vs. commercial vs. vacant lots), inspection times if available, deposit amounts, and minimum bids. The information is also included in a table below. For more information, contact the Property Management office, located in Newark City Hall room 421 (973-733-3914).

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.51.25 AM Click to filter the map by minimum price.

Featured Image: 478 So. 20th Street Newark, NJ. Source: Google Maps StreetView

Sweet smell of success: Handmade body products and African-inspired apparel offered at thriving Halsey Street shop

Patchouli, frankincense and myrrh are some of the scents that might greet you at the doorway to Ancient African Formula on Halsey Street. That is unless the embroidered prints adorning the mannequins in the store’s display window don’t lure you in first.

Aminata Dukuray, a native of Gambia by way of Sierra Leone, runs the health and lifestyle store with the help of her four daughters. At around 1 p.m. on any given weekday, one can find Dukuray bottling samples of her sweet-smelling body oils, or explaining to her loyal customers how exactly her Super Hair Grow formula works.

Dukuray’s Ancient African Formula skincare and hair care products are all handmade by Dukuray herself in the back of the store. Customers who find themselves there will see blocks of her uncut Shea butter soap ready to be packaged and sold.

aminata dukuray

Aminata Dukuray owns Ancient African Formula on Halsey Street. Source:

Dukuray opened the Halsey Street store in November of 2014, but she has been in business much longer than that, making her products for at-home use before becoming a wholesaler and stocking local beauty supply stores all over New Jersey with her products.

“I’ve been in business for a long, long time,” said Dukuray when asked about the origin of her line. “I started making my products at home because my daughter had ringworm, and nothing was working. So I decided to try and make something myself, and that’s how it started.”

Less than a year after Dukuray opened shop, she has built a legion of customers that keep coming back for her sweet-smelling products.

“I buy oils. I buy soap. I buy Shea butter. I even buy earrings. I love her products because they are natural. I use them for everything,” said Kecia Richardson-Gilbert, one of Dukuray’s customers.

Beyond skin and hair care, Ancient African Formula is also home to African-inspired jewelry, artwork and more recently, clothing. As Dukuray bagged up another one of her orders, a customer lamented  the sign outside the store informing customers that Dukuray will not be able to take anymore clothing orders for another two weeks due to her busy schedule.

aaf accessories

Ancient African formula offers clothing, accessories, and artwork in addition to body products.

“I overbooked myself. People were making so many orders for the clothes that I barely had time to make my products,” Dukuray explained. “Customers came in and there was nothing on the shelves, nothing to sell.”

The new additions to Dukuray’s brand are bespoke, embroidered outfits made from African prints — prints that her daughter brings back to the U.S. from her trips to West Africa. From the midday rush in Dukuray’s store, it is clear that her store is thriving.

“Everyone comes here, it’s not just African women. Some people come because their friends tell them about it, and some just come because they see the sign,” Dukuray said.

Even though her store is doing well, Dukuray is not one to rest on her laurels. The businesswoman is already in the planning stages of developing an African-inspired restaurant right next door to her existing space.

“I see it [Ancient African Formula] growing. I see us opening more stores, and not just in New Jersey,” she said.

Ancient African Formula is located at 109 Halsey Street. The shop is open from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Shop online herePhotograph of Aminata Dukuray via

As employees settle in, prospects for Prudential Tower to become a center of gravity in its new neighborhood

With this summer’s completion of the new Prudential Tower downtown Newark, West Park Street is again drivable, the sidewalk across from Military Park is newly unobstructed by construction barriers, and 1,900 employees find themselves clocking into spanking new digs every morning.

For employees, the 20-story Prudential Tower is simply a new office. But there’s a little more to the tower than meets the eye in terms of its larger impact on the neighborhood says Richard Hummers, a Prudential executive who oversaw the project during the entirety its four-year arc from conception to completion. (The $444 million project received a nearly $211 million tax credit based on its estimated benefit as a job creation and retention engine in the area.)

“For us, building the new tower wasn’t just about solving a real estate and capacity problem,” Hummers said earlier this week, while sitting in a conference room at nearby Prudential Plaza alongside his colleague, Lata Reddy, vice president of corporate responsibility and president of the Prudential Foundation. Prudential Plaza remains the company’s headquarters, and is located two blocks south of its gleaming, translucent new cousin.


The “Shoppes on Broad” will feature street-level retail and restaurants.

Hummers said the project team also considered how the building site could fundamentally alter its surroundings. “We chose a site that could transform” its broader neighborhood in Newark, he said. Built on a long-blighted stretch of Broad Street, the new tower is positioned to do just that.

First, said Hummers, together with Prudential Plaza and a third Prudential building on Washington Street, the new tower creates something of a campus for its 6,000 Newark employees, but without being walled off from the rest of downtown. Hummers said “constant interaction” among Prudential employees in all three buildings creates more pedestrian traffic. That not only benefits businesses that are currently and soon-to-be located downtown, but also adds vibrancy to the neighborhood, he said.

The towers also add continuity along Broad Street. Together with the newly renovated Military Park and the in-progress renovation of the Hahnes building, both of which Prudential helped finance, the building addresses a significant gap in activated spaces along downtown Newark’s primary artery.

The project’s planners also added some architectural and design elements that consider the pedestrian experience. Prudential Tower features a parking deck that runs from Broad to Halsey Streets along New Street. Parking garages often make for imposing structures, but “the walk from Rutgers to Military Park shouldn’t feel like you’re passing through a dark cavern,” said Hummers. The solution: vertical green space lines the garage wall facing New Street by way of planters filled with greenery. “We wanted to make these spaces feel inviting,” Hummers explained.

Prudential Tower planters

Planters line the parking garage exterior along New Street. Across the street, the Hahne’s building under construction.

The same goal animated the developers’ decision to install a “green wall” standing 55 feet high on the opposite side of the garage. The varying shades of the plants that comprise the wall, which architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed, form a mural inspired by the lower righthand section of Prudential’s “Rock of Gibralter” logo.

Unlike the Hahne’s building, which will be mixed-use, Prudential’s new building is strictly an office tower, intended for its employees and for company-sponsored events. And it is those employees, said Reddy, who will be the primary vectors of the company’s interaction with its broader neighborhood.

Some of those interactions will be organized by Prudential, as with a recent youth-geared community service outing to Military Park.

But on a day-to-day basis, both Reddy and Hummers said, they’ll involve employees’ engagement with area social life and businesses, and vice versa.

green wall prudential

Prudential Tower’s “green wall” mural draws from the company’s “Rock of Gibraltar” logo.

To help facilitate this, Prudential invited owners and managers from neighborhood restaurants, including Burger Walla, Nico, Dinosaur Barbecue, Duke’s Southern Table, Green Chicpea and BURG, the new burger and beer restaurant soon to launch in Military Park, to a “Community Partners Reception” and tasting on the building’s rooftop in early August. And while the tower’s construction caused a significant tightening of foot traffic along the north Halsey Street corridor, businesses are already seeing a surge in customers now that Prudential employees have moved in. All told, the building can accommodate up to 3,000 employees.

The “Shoppes on Broad” surrounding the towers will also be key locations of broader community interaction with the development. The shops will essentially extend the project onto the street level, and offer pedestrians retail and food options including a Blaze Pizza franchise and a reported Nike Factory store.

Taken together, these elements represent an “affirmative and intentional” push by the company to embed and integrate itself into its new neighborhood.

Prudential is planning a grand opening for the new towers on September 29th. Prudential Tower is located at 655 Broad Street in Newark.