Newark, NJ – February 17, 2022—Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined the Newark Housing Authority and other dignitaries to launch the demolition of the abandoned 15-acre Seth Boyden Court public housing complex today, by riding the crane that began the work. The complex is located at 164 Dayton Street.
“We are here today because we want to revitalize, repurpose, and transform this whole neighborhood,” said Mayor Baraka. “It’s not just about this project, it’s about this entire community, the history of it, and the future of what it’s going to be. There is going to be affordable and market housing, commercial development, and we are even thinking of a film studio. This site will be an example of what we have the authority and power to do when we work together to make it happen.”
Built in 1939, Seth Boyden Court was the first public housing complex in the City of Newark. The complex, built after the Great Depression, served as a home to generations of children and families. The 530 apartment units, in 12 buildings, were closed due to high maintenance costs and public safety issues in 2015, and the tenants relocated at the same time. Since then, the property has been abandoned. It stands across the street from the Weequahic Golf Course.
“The revitalization that will happen here will enhance the quality of life for all the people in this area,” said U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr, who was at the event. “I know new affordable housing is imperative and at the top of the Mayor’s priorities. I am delighted to play a small part in it. We will keep the federal government interested in these projects and make sure that we continue the revitalization of Newark.”
The Seth Boyden Court complex had become a public health and safety issue as a result of sitting idle for more than six years. The complex received demolition approval in 2014 and due to the lack of funding, it has been standing empty during this time. Empty and abandoned properties become targets to squatters and illegal dumpers and the site was not immune to these ills.
Recognizing that the Newark Housing Authority had begun discussion on the redevelopment of the complex and Dayton Street neighborhood, Mayor Baraka and the City of Newark stepped in and offered to extend $4 million towards the demolition in the form of a loan to be repaid from redevelopment proceeds. The Housing Authority Board of Commissioners accepted the proposal, and a shared services agreement was born.
“The Housing Authority and the Board of Commissioners are grateful to get to this point of the redevelopment process, which would not have been possible without the assistance of Mayor Baraka and the administration,” said Newark Housing Authority Executive Director Victor Cirilo, who was in attendance. “We are ecstatic for the Dayton Street neighborhood and the city at large not only for the anchor redevelopment at this site, but also the vision for the entire neighborhood.”
“The Dayton area is on its way to become an exciting mixed-use neighborhood. Blight will be replaced by wonderful places for people of all incomes to live, and such commercial uses as business incubators, live performance theaters, film studios, and research and development. With the convenience of a new PATH station being built in that neighborhood and the beauty and recreation activities of Weequahic Park, this neighborhood will carry out Mayor Baraka’s vision of equitable growth and become a gem of the South Ward,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Housing Development Allison Ladd, also present at the event.
The Housing Authority has named Boraie Development as the developer of a mixed-income residential complex. In addition, it is considering options for a commercial component at the site. The Dayton Street neighborhood has been declared an area in need of rehabilitation and education, health, and public safety options are all on the table for the neighborhood. Perdomo of New York will undertake the demolition.
The Housing Authority will be working with the State of New Jersey to assist with the financing of the environmental components, and it is also anticipating a New Jersey Economic Development Authority partnership through the newly created Aspire program.
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