Newark’s Eighth Avenue used to run right through the heart of Little Italy, lined with cafes and restaurants. Now the developer behind Vermella Broad Street is hoping to bring the corridor back to life.
“This project was a great opportunity for us to participate in Newark’s redevelopment vision of creating new, marketable and affordable housing,” said Ed Russo, CEO of Russo Development.
The 295-unit Vermella project is Russo’s first residential development in Newark. As well as bringing more street life to the block, Russo promises to offer communal facilities like a rooftop lounge and gallery space.
Currently, most of the city’s art takes place in the Four Corners, with exhibition spaces such as the Newark Museum of Art, the Project for Empty Space, and the Aferro Gallery. But institutions like the Newark Boys Chorus School are considering moving further north.
“The arts played a critical role in Newark’s renaissance,” said Paul Chapin, director of the Newark Boys Chorus School, which hosted its annual gala on May 31. “We look forward to seeing the burgeoning arts scene and potential bohemian district take shape around Broad Street Station.”
Two years ago, Chapin announced that the NBCS would be moving from its longtime meeting place at Symphony Hall to the old State Street School, the city’s oldest existing public school and the former home of the School for Colored Children. While the pandemic has delayed those plans, Chapin remains committed to the course.
The new developments are not limited to the Newark side of the river. In fact, a short walk across the Clay Street Bridge is one of the area’s premier adaptive reuse projects. Former 19th Century Clark Thread Factory to be converted into 616 residential units with ground floor retail. Borough officials are pursuing a national retailer to anchor East Newark’s new downtown, Kevin Catrambone, the borough’s special projects manager, told Jersey Digs.
In the 19th century, the Clark Thread Company spanned both sides of the Passaic River. The renovations now underway could make the river the new centerpiece of a bicoastal neighborhood. The riverfront will also include a three-hectare park with an amphitheater that will transform the river into a source of natural beauty and outdoor entertainment.
“The park is expected to attract ecology enthusiasts who will enjoy the numerous species of flora and fauna along the coast,” said Kevin Catrambone.
The final piece to reclaim the East Newark riverfront from industry is another Russo Development project. The Bridge at Vermella on the American Strip Steel Factory site will bring 276 units to the water.
Catambrone said he’s banking on this foot traffic, which will make Central Avenue a shopping corridor. “Retail will create jobs for our residents and the additional housing units will bring a vibrant dynamic along Central Avenue that will allow high street businesses to thrive and thrive,” he said.