Newark, NJ - November 17, 2020 — City of Newark dignitaries and Ascension Capital Partners Siree Morris and Ryan Curran cut the ribbon today for two new affordable three-family homes on former city-owned vacant lots, as part of Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s plan to create more affordable housing. The ceremony took place at 400-402 Avon Avenue and 404 Avon Avenue in the city’s South Ward. The developer Siree Morris, and his wife, Ayana, are creators of the unique Newark Moonlight Cinema, the pop-up drive-in theater celebrating Black actors and filmmakers that has been drawing crowds to the site of the former Newark Bears’ Riverfront Stadium.
The two new structures, called “The Lofts at Avon,” will offer their residents three-bedroom units with two bathrooms each and stainless-steel appliances. The partners purchased the land from the city in 2017.
“Affordable housing is a central issue and primary focus of my administration,” said Mayor Baraka. “Affordable development like the Lofts at Avon make the American dream of home ownership a reality for more Newark residents. The developer, Siree Morris, himself represents the American dream. He is a Newark native who has now returned to his birthplace to give back and pay it forward, to help us create a more equitable, collaborative, and empowered Newark.”
“Development outside of downtown will be driven by new developers such as Siree Morris, local residents dedicated to the rebirth of old neighborhoods working in partnership with Newark’s targeted low-cost land sales and equipped with tools and knowledge learned through from our small contractor/developer initiatives,” said Allison Ladd, Deputy Mayor and Director of Economic and Housing Development.
Mr. Morris is a Newark native whose grandmother worked as a City Hall maintenance employee for more than 25 years. He graduated from University High School, where he was a McDonald’s All-American Basketball Player and scholar-athlete under his former coach, Mayor Baraka. Mr. Morris graduated from Rutgers University in 2005, having gained a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, and has worked as a civil engineer specializing in land development. He chose to move back to his birthplace to use his expertise to develop affordable housing and job opportunities.
“This is a very important milestone in my career. It is important for me to be an example for my community. I want us to act on the endless opportunities and influence that real estate affords. The only way to preserve our community is to own it,” said Mr. Morris.
How COVID-19 Affected Development
Construction began in January and most of it has taken place during the pandemic. This was one of the few construction sites that were able to build during the pandemic because an executive order of the Governor ruled that affordable housing construction is essential. The number one priority of Ascension Partners was staff safety. They required all employees to wear masks, limited the number working inside the building, opened all windows and doors to create air circulation and provided and required use of hand sanitizer to keep workers safe. They did not work during Mayor Baraka’s Be Still Mondays.
About Ascension Capital Partners
Ascension Capital Partners, owned by Siree Morris and Ryan Curran, focuses on urban revitalization by providing quality housing and enhancing the value of each asset. The partners’ next housing development is “The Michael,” on Mr. Morris’s childhood block on Astor Street. The development’s name honors Mr. Morris’s late brother Michael Morris. He is also developing the city’s first multi-family shipping container home.
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