Feature Stories

Newark's Renaissance

NJIT helps the revitalization of Newark.

The tall construction cranes that dot Newark's skyline symbolize the city's renaissance. Withelegant apartment buildings and beautiful housing towers springing up, and with major retailers looking to open downtown,the City's landscape is rapidly changing in ways that are generating enormous excitement and attracting great interestacross the entire region.

And Newark's NJIT is playing a major role in that renaissance.

The university spent more than $75 million building a gleaming state of the art Campus Center, which now hosts an extensive array of activities for Newark organizations and civic groups. Italso restored Eberhardt Hall, an impressive and historic building that graces Martin Luther King Boulevard, and construction will start soon on a $50 million world-class stem cell research center.

"NJIT has done so much for this city," said Newark Mayor Corey Booker, during a recent address to NJIT students. "The mission of NJIT resonates with my mission for Newark - to make it one of the most vibrant cities in the nation."

NJIT is helping Booker carry out that mission in myriad ways.

For instance, the university aims to create a new Campus Gateway in the neighborhood adjacent to NJIT. Current planning envisions retail shops, cafes, restaurants and newfraternity facilities known as Greek Village. Campus Gateway would connect with a city project known asTransit Village. Together these two projects will create a vital urban center in the heartof Newark's University Heights section. Furtherenhancing these plans is University Centre, two modern apartment buildings due to openin August 2007. The buildings will house more than 800 college students, who will be connected to the NJIT community through planned events, said University Centre officials.

Newark also possesses an amazing array of infrastructure assets that other cities envy: the largest seaport on the Eastern Seaboard, a major international airport, a network of highways as well as Penn Station and the PATH trains, which offer quick rides intoManhattan, just 10 miles away. It is also home to the state's most vibrant arts center,New Jersey PAC, and boasts a first class professional baseball stadium - Bears and EaglesRiverfront Stadium, where the NJIT baseball team plays its home games. Newark is also home to the famous the Ironbound section, a daisy chain of almost 200 excellent Portuguese and Brazilian restaurants.

Economically, Newark is in good hands. Bookerrecently hired a top economic development expert, Stefan Pryor, to help spur the city's economic development. Pryor, who held a similar position in New York City, led redevelopment efforts in Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11. Pryor has recently moved from Manhattan to an Art Deco tower in Newark.

NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch is also a major force in the Newark Renaissance. As chairman of the Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corporation, Altenkirch is helping to guide the redevelopment of downtown Newark, including the building of the Newark Arena. The Arena, future home of the New Jersey Devils, is slated to open in October.

Altenkirch recently moved to Newark and is restoring an historic home in the Forest Hill section in order to be closer to NJIT and to the activities now shaping the city's future.

"The ongoing transformation of the NJIT campus both aids the city's development and benefits from it," said Altenkirch. "It's a mutually beneficial process and with Mayor Booker's exciting vision to guide it, Newark is poised for great things."

Altenkirch has improved the quality of life at NJIT, both on campus and off. He has enhanced the university's sports program, elevating most programs to Division I status. NJIT's gymnasium has been renovated and the soccer field was recently re-graded and fitted with artificial turf and a new running track. Newark residents, many of whom attend NJIT, are encouraged to watch the NJIT teams compete.NJIT also runs the state's largest and most dynamic business incubator, helping entrepreneurs and their fledging high-tech companies realize their dreams for business success. The incubator, housed in state-of-the-art facilities, provides office and lab space, financial help and technical services to the start-up firms. Started in 1988, the incubator has helped spawn 60 companies; that helps both Newark and the state. And plans have been developed that involve NJIT's business incubator as a major catalyst in the creation of a high-tech Newark Innovation Zone attracting dozens of companies and thousands of employees.All that NJIT has done to help Newark has not gone unnoticed by Mayor Booker.

"NJIT has done and continues to do so much for the city," Booker said during his NJIT speech. "The university is a major force in Newark. I'm awestruck by NJIT."