Newark, NJ – September 19, 2023 — Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Governor Phil Murphy, Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, Newark Municipal Council Members, and other dignitaries broke ground today for the Mulberry Commons Pedestrian Bridge, which will link Mulberry Commons Park with Newark Penn Station. The ceremony took place in Mulberry Commons Park, in an area adjacent to Ironside Newark.
“Mulberry Commons Park is the first phase of one of the most important redevelopment projects ever undertaken in Newark,” said Mayor Baraka. “It has provided our children with a safe, innovative place to play, created a new community gathering space for outdoor events, and jumpstarted development in the surrounding neighborhood. With today’s groundbreaking, we enter the second phase, which catapults the metamorphosis of downtown into the full expression of a livable community. After decades of contemplating concepts and possibilities, Newark now cements a public/private collaboration to create a bustling habitat, dovetailing housing, employment, retail, and entertainment. I’m proud and grateful to everyone who made this day possible.”
The bridge will:
· Create a new civic landmark for the City of Newark.
· Connect downtown and Mulberry Commons Park to the Ironbound.
· Spur economic growth and development.
· Attract significant direct investment and job creation for city, county, and state.
· Provide direct access from the bridge to Newark Penn Station.
· Enhance the pedestrian experience in and out of Newark Penn Station.
· Make the city more walkable and green.
· Make Newark Penn Station a state of the art transit hub.
· Activate interest in Newark and enhance the city’s destination status.
“It’s rare that a single project can so comprehensively encapsulate all that our state – and the great City of Newark – have worked tirelessly to achieve for our residents,” said Governor Murphy. “Indeed, by connecting Newark Penn Station and the city’s downtown, the Mulberry Commons Pedestrian Bridge will not only promote active and public transportation in our state’s most populous city, but simultaneously catalyze economic growth and development for generations to come. Most importantly, this bridge is a project that puts New Jerseyans and their quality of life first, connecting residents with vibrant community assets in one of our state’s most iconic neighborhoods.”
The Mulberry Commons Pedestrian Bridge is a key piece of the city’s development strategy for the central business district. The initiative coordinates with New Jersey’s statewide long-range transportation plan involving Penn Station, which includes smart growth measures for development and redevelopment in the Newark corridor. The bridge will connect Penn Station directly with the Prudential Center, and increase commuter access to the city’s approximately 15 million square feet of office space, four higher education institutions, and approximately 5 million square feet of industrial space. Additionally, the project will significantly benefit multiple neighborhoods of the city that have limited connectivity to transit and to the city center.
“Today, as we break ground on the Mulberry Commons Pedestrian Bridge Phase II in Newark, we celebrate not only the physical connection of neighborhoods but the unification of our community’s spirit. This bridge, set to link Newark Penn Station and the historic Ironbound neighborhood, represents more than just steel and concrete; it signifies progress, accessibility, and shared aspirations,” said Senate Majority Leader Ruiz. “Mass transit connectivity, as proven time and again, is an economic engine that propels communities forward. It creates opportunities, fosters growth, and enriches the lives of our residents and visitors alike. The Mulberry Commons Bridge is a symbol of our commitment to advancing the well-being of our city.”
“As Newark continues to go forward, I am excited about breaking ground on the Mulberry Commons Pedestrian Bridge! Another step forward, with the creation of the Mulberry Commons Pedestrian Bridge here in Newark, means improving and providing pedestrian connectivity for communities and businesses, enhancing the pedestrian experience here in Newark, which in return will enhance the City’s destination status, and build more economic growth and development,” said Newark Municipal Council President LaMonica R. McIver.
“This bridge will do much more than serve as a pedestrian walkway. This bridge will connect our City and unite its residents, visitors, and workforce,” said East Ward Council Member Michael J. Silva. “By fully celebrating and integrating the diversity of our City, we will grow stronger together as ONE NEWARK.”
Downtown has several neighborhoods that will be connected by the project, including the Ironbound section, which includes commercial and retail activity with a concentration of stores and restaurants that attract residents and visitors. It will generate increased foot traffic and tourism in the Ironbound and Prudential Center area.
“Mayor Baraka’s vision for Mulberry Commons has always been clear: unity,” said Newark Deputy Mayor and Director of the Department of Housing and Economic Development Allison Ladd. “The highway and railroad tracks have divided us for generations. This groundbreaking is a milestone in our work to reunite and build a pedestrian bridge that will connect our city, our neighborhoods and our residents.”
Financing this Major Infrastructure Project
· The City closed on $110 million Mass Transit Access Tax Revenue Bonds, Series 2022 on November 22, 2022.
· At closing, this financing generated approximately $103.7 million for the design and construction of the Mulberry Pedestrian Bridge.
· The funds have been generating interest since closing through both the daily money market (current yield approximately 4.90%) and through the purchase of eligible U.S. Treasuries (approximate yield of 5.32%).
· Interest earnings on amounts in the construction fund will generate additional funds (presently estimated to be $5 million by mid-2024) to support the construction of the bridge.
· The City has collected approximately $4.1 million year to date in Mass Transit Access Tax revenue and is on pace to slightly exceed what was estimated in the 2022 Parking Study.
“The dynamic relationship between Newark’s downtown and the Ironbound will be a key contributor to the city’s continued redevelopment and economic success,” noted Vince Baglivo, Executive Director of the Ironbound Business Improvement District (IBID). “The completion of the pedestrian bridge across Route 21 will be both a symbolic and practical example of positive change that will benefit residents, businesses, and visitors to Newark through improved connectivity.”
“The Mulberry Commons project is a testament to the vision of Mayor Baraka and Governor Murphy and the realization of their commitment to the people and City of Newark,” said Sage & Coombe Architects Founding Partner Jennifer Sage. “This project prioritizes a state of the art public space to celebrate the values of equity, sustainability and civic pride and will become Newark’s new landmark, providing a modern and inviting transit hub serving Newarkers and visitors alike. As the final phase of Mulberry Commons, the erection of a great new train hall and pedestrian bridge crossing the Northeast Corridor will bring much-needed green space, new economic energy to the city as a whole and restore an essential bond between the downtown and the Ironbound.”
For renderings of the project, click here. Please give credit to Unboxed Visuals for Sage and Coombe Architects.
For photographs of the groundbreaking, click here.