Christie, Booker Celebrate Next Step for Newark’s Teachers Village

Eighteen months after breaking ground, the second stage of Newark’s Teachers Village, a $150 million redevelopment project, opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew together political heavyweights like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker as well as business and educational leaders from around the state.

According to Tom De Poto of The Star-Ledger, the first five buildings of the projected eight total are now open for business. The first two buildings, which house three charter schools as well as the officers of the Council for Higher Education in Newark, were completed in June. This week’s ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of another three which boast 60,000 square feet of retail space as well as 250,000 square feet of affordable housing, with rents expected to range between $700 and $1,400 a month.

Several retail outlets have “Coming Soon” signs in the windows, including a fitness center, floral shop, cafes, Provident Bank and several eateries.

The final buildings are expected to be completed by the spring.

The project received nearly $40 million in tax credits from the state Economic Development Authority and $60 million in federal New Markets tax credits as well as Qualified School Construction bonds. It also received public funding from Newark and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

Teachers Village, like the Panasonic Tower which opened in Newark last week, was funded in large part thanks to the Urban Transit Hub program, which offers tax credits for large-scale building and development projects around urban areas of the state. Rob Beit, the lead developer for the RBH Group, which headed up the Teachers Village project, paid tribute to the program at the ribbon-cutting, saying that without the state’s use of tax credits to encourage building, the project would never have gotten off the ground.

Teachers Village is one of several ambitious projects in the works for Beit’s group, and he predicted that in two to three years, “you’ll see a market that is sustained by private capital alone because all of the work the public did in getting this market here today.”

“Every milestone we make here in Newark in terms of delivering buildings creates a market, adds a layer to the market,” he said. “So everything we do gets easier and easier as we go from here.”

All told, Teachers Village will feature three charter schools, 202 apartment units for educators and 70,000 square feet of retail. The remaining buildings are expected to be delivered by late 2014 or early 2015.