A concept rendering of Accurate Builders & Developers’ redevelopment of the former Riverfront Stadium property in Newark — Courtesy: City of Newark/Lessard Design
By Joshua Burd
A developer and Newark city officials are offering new details about a plan to revitalize a former stadium property, including a focus on affordable housing and the use of union labor.
An affiliate of Accurate Builders & Developers recently closed on the former Newark Bears property, located west of McCarter Highway between Bridge and Division streets, after securing local approval for an amended redevelopment agreement. Plans now call for a nine-phase project that will comprise some 4,200 residential units, 200 of which will be affordable, along with up to 3,000 parking spaces, at least 100,000 square feet of hospitality or destination retail, co-working space and publicly accessible green space.
In addition, the developer plans to pay prevailing wages on 10 percent of the construction costs to ensure the use of union and local labor, according to a news release from the city. A second new feature is the developer’s creation of a training, retention and apprenticeship program for Newark residents to provide on-the-job learning with the goal of increasing enrollment of city residents in union jobs.
“The redevelopment of the eight-acre Bears Stadium site is the kind of transformative project that comes along only a few times in a generation,” Mayor Ras J. Baraka said. “The additional housing, space for entrepreneurs and small businesses plus retail gets us closer to our goal of a vital, exciting, walkable 24-hour downtown. Additionally, the new construction training and apprenticeship component will open up well-paying union jobs for Newark residents and we will have made another giant step forward in our equitable growth strategy.”
Baraka hailed the changes from a previous plan to redevelop the site, under Lotus Equity Group, which at one point called for up to 2,000 apartments, large- and small-scale retail, a hotel and 2 million square feet of office space. Lakewood-based Accurate Builders, operating as May Newark LLC, won municipal council approval for its new and improved project in mid-April and subsequently closed on its acquisition of the property.
Other changes call for the development to be built under the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, which helps accelerate the development of affordable housing as Newark recovers from COVID-19, the news release said. The project will now designate 5 percent of the units as on-site affordable housing, while incorporating a $15 million payment to the city’s affordable housing trust fund to produce new homes in neighborhoods outside of downtown.
“We are extremely excited to partner with the city of Newark to create the ultimate lifestyle destination within the largest city in New Jersey,” said Jack Klugmann, CEO of Accurate Builders and Developers. “We greatly appreciate the trust the city has put in us and we look forward to continue working closely with the mayor and his team, as their efforts thus far have been the driving force, assisting in bringing this transformative project to fruition.”
Klugmann’s firm recently secured acquisition financing for the site from Madison Realty Capital, which was arranged by Meridian Capital Group.
“This investment is reflective of Madison Realty Capital’s commitment to providing customized, flexible, capital solutions that support the growth and betterment of our communities,” said Josh Zegen, Madison Realty’s managing principal and co-founder. “We are thrilled to work with Jack Klugmann and Accurate Builders & Developers and the city of Newark on this exciting, once-in-a-generation project that benefits the economic revitalization of downtown and will bring much needed high-quality housing options to Newark’s hard-working residents.”
City officials noted that the developer will also spend no less than $2.7 million for building trades workforce training and retention, which may be invested over each of the nine phases of the project, with a minimum of $300,000 in each phase.
“I am proud to have worked alongside the talented Jack Klugmann of Accurate Builders & Developers as well as the city of Newark to help bring such an exciting and monumental project to life,” said Shaya Ackerman of Meridian Capital Group. “The redevelopment of the Bears Stadium site will set a new standard for quality and convenience in the Newark market.”