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15 Washington St. in the James Street Commons Historic District gets Board of Adjusters Approval

BY lyanne

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Last Evening the Board of Adjusters gave site plan and final review , of the building, at 15 Washington St. in the James Street Commons Historic District,  formerly site of the Rutgers law school until it moved to 123 Washington St. in 1999. The 21-story building has been empty since then.  With the goal to to turn the high-rise into housing for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as office and meeting space.

The project has already been approved by the Newark Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission.  The rehabilitation and restoration are expected to cost $94.8 million. About $57 million of the financing will come from bonds that will be repaid through rents. About $18 million will come from equity, and $10.7 million from the state Higher Education Facility Trust fund.

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The project was almost derailed when concern businessmen and residences became concerned about the potential inclusion of a restaurant in the building lobby area.  The residents have been working with Rutgers on the development plan of the proposed graduate housing and the soon to be housing for the recent appointed Chancellor of Rutgers Newark.  But the community wanted to make sure that eateries by located inside the building could have economic impact on developing improved retail around the area.  One resident said it is about economic and community development, traditionally large development such as this would bring more students but the commercial portion would received little to no stimulations because services were provided internally int he structure, and thusly more student would come into our community but yield limited economic stimulation.  The concerns were communicated to Rutgers prior to the meeting, negotiation ensued and a mutual compromise was reached.  The representative of the community, Derek Ware’, said that The Community looked forward to continue working with Rutgers with the mutual goals of improving the community and building Economic synergies, and that Rutgers with it open communication process has resulted in a better overall project that will serve the needs of the college but also serve the re-new vitality of the community known as the The Historic James Historic District.  Rutgers will present its final presentation to SHPO, State Historic Preservation Office, on March 3rd, and now that this hurdle has been past is expected to receive the preservations approval.

 

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Additionally , yesterday, The state Economic Development Authority yesterday awarded $23 million in tax credits to a developer planning to convert a landmark Newark building into housing for Rutgers students.  Rutgers will be the operator of the facility, but with with a subsidiary of New Brunswick Development Corp. — or Devco — to take advantage of the funding mixed and tax credits to financed the project.  

Chris Paladino, Devco president, said construction is expected to begin this morning. He said the neighborhood surrounding the building “will be a very different place in a few years.”  The building originally was the showplace headquarters for the American Insurance Co. in the late 1920s until it was donated to Rutgers. When the law school moved out in 1999, Rutgers hoped Marriott would open a conference center there, but financing fell through.  The neighborhood surrounding the building will be a very different place in a few years.” Paladino Rutgers has said it plans to maintain the building’s original form and style. The façade is expected to be fully restored, as well as the grand hall with its 15-foot-tall windows on the main floor.

When completed in July 2015, the building will house nearly 350 students in studios, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. Rents will range from $800 to $1,180.
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