Maplewood, Newark, South Orange neighborhoods join preservation program

TRENTON, NJ — The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has designated 20 communities from across the state to join the Neighborhood Preservation Program, which is designed to strengthen the economic health of threatened but viable neighborhoods and to encourage private investment in these communities. The department selected the communities through a competitive application process. 

New NPP neighborhoods in Essex County are: the Hilton neighborhood and Springfield Avenue District in Maplewood; the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District in Newark; and Seton Village District in South Orange.

The NPP program, which began in 1975, focuses on revitalizing neighborhoods that are beginning to decline, seeking to improve them through local planning and community participation, and building local capacity and coordination to maximize grant funding and sustain neighborhood vitality. There are 40 neighborhoods participating in the program, including the new communities announced Oct. 7.

“Since the very beginning of the Murphy administration, DCA has committed considerable resources to programs that foster economic growth, community development and housing rehabilitation in neighborhoods at risk of decline. The expansion of our Neighborhood Preservation Program is a critical part of this effort,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “We believe that strong neighborhoods lead to sustained prosperity for the individuals and families who live and work in these communities. We’re excited to have these new neighborhoods join our program and benefit from the assistance, guidance and funding that we provide.”

DCA selected the communities based on community engagement, staffing capacity, readiness to proceed, NPP mission fit, feasibility of goals, neighborhood assets, distress level, past revitalization efforts and work to leverage other place-based designations.

Communities were required to show a commitment of resources from the neighborhood and municipality, as well as support from community organizations and residents. They were also encouraged to demonstrate participation in other state or federal programs, including designation as a Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit neighborhood, Opportunity Zone, Main Street New Jersey district, Transit Village, Urban Enterprise Zone or other relevant designations.

The Department will award $125,000 in grant funding to each newly designated community to help them achieve their goals. In addition to the funding, a hallmark of NPP is that the program offers an array of technical assistance and training to support the empowerment of participating local governments, nonprofit groups and neighborhood district stakeholders so they can build a foundation to sustain their revitalization efforts over time.

NPP grant funds must be used for neighborhood preservation and revitalization activities, consisting of housing and economic development activities and other neighborhood preservation and revitalization activities. Included projects are enhancements such as for lighting, seating, art and performance spaces; public gardens and parklets; public recreational features such as splash pads, musical installations, outdoor games and equipment; public outdoor seating and dining areas; shade features such as mature trees, outdoor umbrellas and pergolas; local small business gift card programs; and direct grants to small businesses.