NEWARK, NJ — In his third annual State of the City Address at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Monday, March 20, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka mentioned the township of Irvington and the planned redevelopment of the old Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery site at the intersection of South Orange Avenue and Grove Street, which straddles the border between both municipalities.
“Around the old Pabst Blue Ribbon site on South Orange Avenue, they’re moving forward on a Veterans Regional Polytrauma Center that will serve returning veterans with specific needs related to trauma, amputation, sight, hearing and severe pain,” said Baraka on Monday, March 20. “This project calls for a medical facility, a hotel, commercial component and, on the Irvington side, a multi-level parking deck. This will create about 3,000 permanent jobs and, right next door, we received a letter of intent to build a housing complex for veterans on four vacant lots. This entire complex will form a unique Veterans Village right here in the city of Newark and our city’s West Ward.”
Mayor Tony Vauss and Community Development Director Kiyana Brooks both attended Baraka’s State of the City Address and said they knew about the mayor’s plans.
“It’s not a surprise to us; we knew about the parking deck,” Brooks said on Monday, March 20. “There’s also economic development that partners with community development, so between the two departments, we’re both over redevelopment.”
Vauss said redeveloping the town’s East Ward and especially the old Pabst Blue Ribbon site has always been a priority in his administration.
“The entire area, from the West Ward of Newark to the East Ward of Irvington, that area is in need of redevelopment,” said Vauss on Monday, March 20. “We’ve been meeting with the councilman that represents the West Ward of Newark, as well as Councilman Paul Inman from the East Ward, talking about redevelopment there. I’ve seen the plans of what was proposed there and I’m just glad that we’re moving forward to get this thing done for the city of Newark and the township of Irvington.”
Vauss said redeveloping the East Ward is all part of the longstanding plan to make Irvington a clean and safe place to live, work, play and visit. He said crime prevention is an inter-municipal issue, “because crime doesn’t have any border,” and the same goes for cooperation, when it comes to economic redevelopment and revitalization.
“Whether we’re talking about East Orange, Orange, Irvington or Newark, we’re all tied at the hip,” said Vauss. “We all want the best for our communities and we’ve been working together with our partners that border us for many years now. So I’m just proud of the work that Mayor Ras Baraka is doing here in the city of Newark along with the partnership that we have in the township of Irvington and it’s just an exciting time to be in New Jersey.”
Brooks agreed with Vauss.
“Crime rate and redevelopment goes hand in hand; when people are safe, people want to build in a township like Irvington,” Brooks said. “Mayor Ras Baraka and Mayor Tony Vauss are (in) neighboring cities, and redevelopment and lower crime rates are what we need in this community to revitalize the community as well. I want to streamline the system to make it easier for developers that come into town to actually get things done.”
Vauss said he believes in the old adage: The rising tide lifts all ships. He said this applies to Irvington as well as all of Essex County. Baraka talked about raising the bar, when it comes to the economic opportunities at Port Newark and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, during his State of the City Address remarks.
“More people are moving to Newark and investing in our city; we have millions of square feet of commercial, residential and industrial development being approved and we still have the best transportation infrastructure in this region,” Baraka said. “With the raising of the Bayonne Bridge and the new PATH extension just approved by the Port Authority, with a stop in the South Ward and an almost $2 billion investment, our transportation infrastructure looks even better. Both of these projects will create thousands of jobs and spur millions and millions of dollars in subsequent development.”
In 2013, before Vauss ran for mayor in 2014, he talked to an Irvington Herald reporter about the opportunities for Irvington at Port Newark and with the Port Authority, which were on the horizon at that time.
“It was about four years ago we had that conversation,” Vauss said, referring to that conversation, “and, if you look at Mayor Baraka’s State of the City Address tonight, he talked about some of that economic development spurring in Newark as we’re speaking, so it’s now starting to come to fruition, where they need more space on the docks for more containers. More stuff is coming to our port, like they said tonight.
“It’s the second-busiest port in the country, so we’re just primed to have more development and redevelopment going on in our area. We’re talking about the entire northern region of Essex County.”