Working for Smart Growth:
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From Empty Store to Downtown Anchor

SGA2016_win_button_F1_smProject Name:Hahne and Co. Building, Newark
Redevelopment of an iconic, landmark building into a vibrant mix of housing, educational and retail uses, connecting the university district and the downtown.

Partners: Rutgers University-Newark; L+M Development Partners; Prudential; Goldman Sachs


The Hahne’s building, built in 1901, was the first commercial structure in Newark designed specifically as a department store, and became one of several that, during the 1940s and 1950s, helped make the city a destination for all kinds of shopping. But the proliferation of suburban shopping malls in the 1970s and 1980s meant that nearby residents of growing suburbs no longer needed to travel all the way into Newark to shop, and gradually urban retail anchors began to close. The Hahne’s building, the last of these to shutter, has been empty since 1986 when the store relocated to Garden State Plaza in Paramus.

But an innovative public-private partnership is breathing new life into the building, and in doing so is reactivating a landmark historic structure that dominates a key location in downtown Newark. L+M Development Partners, in partnership with local developer Hanini Group, is repurposing the building into a mixed-use structure that will boast retail on the ground floor, space for Rutgers-Newark’s arts programs above that, and 160 residential units in an adjacent building that’s part of the redevelopment plan. Of those units, 64,or 40 percent, will be reserved for low- and moderate-income residents. This influx of residents to the downtown will help continue the area’s transformation into a true 24-hour neighborhood.

Rendering of the planned retail atrium at the redevloped Hahne's building.

Rendering of the planned retail atrium at the redevloped Hahne’s building.

The developers are not merely gutting and refitting the interior of an old building. As they were doing the initial demolition work, they discovered the building’s original skylights, hidden behind false ceilings and ventilation equipment, and are restoring those to form the focal point of the planned retail atrium. Several grand staircases, wrought-iron banisters and tall windows from the original building will also be preserved.

L+M acknowledges the project is pushing the organization beyond its usual expertise in purely residential development, but the developers realized that a building like the Hahne’s building, one of the anchors of the city’s downtown, needed to offer more than housing. The arts facilities, to include studio and gallery space and a 250-seat theater, will help connect Rutgers and its students with both the city’s downtown and the nearby New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the retail space will be a welcome amenity to both residents and nearby workers.

As might be expected, financing for the project turned out to be painstaking and complex, but financing partners Goldman Sachs, Prudential Financial and Citibank all understood the catalytic effect that reactivating this building would have on its surroundings. As if to reinforce the point, Newark-based City National Bank has agreed to move its headquarters to the building, and a Whole Foods, long sought-after to help alleviate the city’s dearth of healthy food choices, will be one of the anchors of the retail space.

When it is completed in 2017, the Hahne’s building will have come full circle, moving from its former status as landmark destination for the region’s carriage trade to disused and vacant and now back again to a premier destination in downtown Newark.

Supporting partners: Citibank; Low Income Investment Fund; The Reinvestment Fund; New Jersey Community Capital; City of Newark; New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency; Crawford Street Partners; Hanini Group; Inglese Architecture and Engineering; Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners; Turner Construction; Whole Foods

Videos produced by Lori H. Ersolmaz, Voices of Hope Productions, LLC. © 2016 All rights reserved.

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