John Palmieri – file photo
By Joshua Burd
Newark’s top official for economic and housing development is stepping down next week after a little more than a year on the job.
Mayor Ras Baraka announced Wednesday that John Palmieri, a deputy mayor who has served as the city’s director of the department of economic and housing development, will retire on March 1 to focus on family and personal issues. His departure comes after progress on several key initiatives in the city, including transportation and smart growth strategies such as new mixed-use zoning in the East Ward, the PATH train extension and a plan for Opportunity Zone investments.
Palmieri joined City Hall in January 2018 after several years as the head of the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in Atlantic City, bringing decades of experience in government and economic development.
Newark’s chief operations officer, Natasha Love Rogers, will serve as interim deputy mayor and director while a task force is formed to conduct a national search for a new leader of the Department of Economic and Housing Development, Baraka said. The new task force consists of both public and private members, led by Ommeed Saathe of Prudential Financial and Aisha Glover of the Newark Alliance, and will help guide improvements to the city’s economic and housing development processes, strategies and implementation in order to expand its commitment to inclusive growth and ensure transparency and efficiency.
The task force’s scope will also include working to identify and onboard a new director, helping the city better compete for large corporate relocations and reviewing and aligning functions of disparate extra-governmental entities that currently play a role in economic development, Baraka said. The group also plans to make the development and permitting process more easily navigable for residents and first-time entrepreneurs.
Rogers, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, has more than 15 years of experience in supply chain management, real estate law, infrastructure and project finance, impact investing, tax law and tax incentives. All are areas that are essential to economic development, Baraka said, noting that Rogers has both private- and public-sector experience.
She has underwritten or financed nearly $3 billion of transactions in her career and worked as a law clerk for Nixon Peabody’s community development finance practice. She has held posts with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a host of other government and public policy-related entities.
Rogers will continue to focus on her COO responsibilities while also managing and maintaining Newark’s portfolio of $4.6 billion of economic and housing development projects, Baraka said.