The New Jersey Economic Development Authority Board approved $25.1 million in Real Estate Rehabilitation and Development Grants under the Activation, Revitalization and Transformation (A.R.T.) Program, to support projects that will help revitalize Atlantic City and Newark, two of New Jersey’s largest cities, which were particularly hard hit by a downturn in economic activity due to the pandemic. A total of 13 projects were approved for grants that will focus on the rehabilitation and renovation of current infrastructure, as well as the construction of new property. The projects will help create an environment necessary to attract and retain residents and talent, enable business creation and attraction, and enhance downtown vitality.
“New Jersey’s downtowns are essential to our state’s economy and culture and in the wake of the pandemic, Governor Phil Murphy has been committed to ushering in a resurgence in these downtowns,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The funding awarded today will allow entities to rehabilitate vacant and blighted properties to encourage businesses, commuters, and residents back to city centers.”
The A.R.T. program utilizes American Rescue Plan (ARP) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to reactivate and revitalize Atlantic City and Newark’s commercial corridors in the wake of COVID-19. Commercial corridors play a vital role in both urban and rural geographies, serving as economic engines for communities by providing jobs that keep money circulating in the local economy, offer goods and services for residents, and power entrepreneurship as well as wealth building.
“The sum of these funds – whether to establish dining venues, art studios, space for creative work and communal collaboration, or an agricultural and nutritional center –are each, and collectively, earmarked for the nourishment of all aspects of Newark’s vitality as a thriving community” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “On behalf of all Newarkers, I thank NJEDA for these real estate and development grants so crucial to our present and future well-being and growth.”
“The Small administration has had much success in instilling investor confidence, making the Great City of Atlantic City a hub for future development once again,” said City of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. “With the help of our partners with the NJEDA, we’ll be able to use this grant funding to push some of our major projects throughout Atlantic City forward, particularly in the Orange Loop area, which has undergone a significant renaissance in recent years.”
In December, the Board approved $3 million in Public Space Activation Grants under the A.R.T. program.
The following entities were approved for grants:
· 155 S Tennessee QOZB, LLC – $2,000,000
The “Surf Lodge” project will create first floor retail space, a surf shop, and 12 residential units with a focus on building Atlantic City’s underdeveloped, yet significant, surfing destination status. Community surf culture will be developed through education/lessons while leveraging the Orange Loop’s scalable model of small, yet purposeful development on the beach blocks of Atlantic City.
· 1519 Boardwalk QOZB LLC – $1,975,000
The project will consist of the rehabilitation of the former James Salt Water Taffy factory located at 1519 Boardwalk into a boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant. 1519 Boardwalk project plans include the buildout of the 28 room, 5 story “James Hotel”; a boutique luxury hotel concept; along with a 180-seat Southern/soul food restaurant, “Kelsey's’ on The Boardwalk”.
· 2702 Arctic Ave Associates LLC – $2,785,319
The project will focus on the rehabilitation of a vacant and blighted former hardware store at 2702 Arctic Avenue into a shared arts and co-working space with a small residential component. “The Key” project will include a 5,000-square-foot open span, maintaining flexibility to be activated as community gathering space for senior and cultural activities; exhibit space for visual arts; or performing arts venue. Two residential units will provide an ongoing income source for project operations.
· MAP 3 Partners LLC – $2,484,850
The entity will use the funding for the construction of The Orange Loop Container Park (OLCP), which will use renovated shipping containers to transform the vacant lot located at 1400 Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City with a unique business concept. Twenty-eight 8 ft x 20 ft shipping containers will be outfitted to house a hydroponic farm (for growing vegetables and mushrooms), retail spaces for local vendors, classroom/community activation space, a record pressing facility and recording/rehearsal studios. Plans also include rooftop outdoor seating and art installations, roadside murals along the backside of the containers, and installing a stage for live performances.
· MudGirls Studios – $604,609
The nonprofit corporation will use the funding for the rehabilitation of a vacant storefront at 3711 Ventnor Avenue into a ceramics/pottery arts studio with retail, training, and office space. The new space will help grow MudGirls mission by providing opportunities and training in art and entrepreneurship to economically disadvantaged and at-risk women which will help transition them out of poverty and onto a pathway of self-sufficiency.
· Ablem Food Services NJ, LLC – $2,518,297
Ablem Food Services will use the funding for the rehabilitation of a former office building space at 550 Market Street. “Melba’s 550” will include a 250-seat soul food inspired fine dining restaurant and large commissary kitchen for catering and satellite locations. The project is intended to create up to 250 jobs and looks to create long-term impact on the neighborhood by fostering community engagement, supporting local businesses, and increasing foot traffic.
· Delta’s Newark II, LLC – $3,494,933
The entity will use the funding for the renovation of a historic bank building/hotel project located at 810 Broad Street. The new southern-Soul inspired fine dining project will include a 110-seat restaurant/music venue and a 120-seat rooftop lounge. The restaurant will occupy the existing 8,500 square foot of vacant restaurant space on the basement, first floor and rooftop levels.
· EqualSpace, LLC – $2,007,401
Funding will be used for the renovation of multiple floors at 550 Market Street. The “=SPACE” is a shared space and incubator dedicated to providing a safe space for black and brown women, men, and those within the LGBTQIA+ community. The project includes three floors with resources for multiple types of entrepreneurs including virtual desk options up to head quarter office spaces for small business to medium size businesses. Amenities will include conference rooms, a podcast studio, classroom space, a multimedia studio, and an event space.
· Hospitality Concepts, LLC – $3,309,720
The project will consist of the buildout of a vacant space at 110 Edison Place. “Katherine’s” will be a 175-seat restaurant, bar, microbrewery, and retail bakery. The project’s focus will be on revitalizing downtown Newark by filling a void of much-needed restaurant and event space and will support Newark's arts & entertainment, catering, business events for the arts & entertainment, board of education, local/state government agencies, corporate partnerships, small businesses, and residential family needs. In addition, the brewery is planned to be leveraged as a tourist attraction for the city of Newark.
· Newark Science and Sustainability – $400,000
Funding will be used for the new construction of classroom, office, and workspaces for an urban agricultural center located at 5 Fairmount Avenue. The “Garden of Hope Agriculture Hub and Sustainability Training Center” will create a Farm-to-Table cooperative, hold workshops on nutrition, urban farming, and generational sustainability, increase access to local food via farmers markets and the develop policy that encourages more consumption of local foods via Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and other assistance programs.
· New Jersey Performing Arts Center – $1,500,000
New Jersey Performing Arts Center requested $1,500,000 to fund the Acquisition of land for the renovation and adaptive reuse of a former Episcopal Church office building. The “Cooperman Family Arts Education and Community Center Annex”, located at 31 Mulberry Street, will house educational classrooms, community gathering spaces and office space for NJPAC’s staff. The project will accommodate additional space needed for NJPAC’s expanding programs in Arts Education, Community Engagement, Arts & Well-being, and the creation of new performance work.
· Project for Empty Space – $1,010,189
The project will consist of the renovation of a former office space into nearly 36,500 square feet of studio and public programming space on four floors of 800 Broad Street and the renovation of a former lobby space into a public gallery with 3,700 square feet of ground floor, park-facing space at 110 Edison Place in Ironside Newark. The project would allow Project for Empty Space to provide more public programming for growing audiences, and provide additional studio space, art production workshop, materials, and career development opportunities at a more deeply subsidized rate for local, working artists.
· RBH-TRB East Mezz Urban Renewal Entity, LLC – $1,061,312
Funding will be used for the renovation of a vacant storefront in the Teacher’s Village complex located at 23 William Street. The project will create a new Newark Glass Art Center, including studios, classrooms, and offices, for GlassRoots, the 22-year-old Newark-based glassmaking nonprofit. The project will include galleries, educational spaces, offices, and arts workshops that serve as an anchor arts institution within Newark’s Arts and Education District and deepen its impact through continued and new programs with schools and community partners.