When the 3-year $40 million renovation of Newark’s historic Symphony Hall was announced so was a pledge by CEO Taneshia Nash Laird to also help spur the redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood by the neighborhood.

“This isn’t how development usually happens in a city like ours, but it is part of making the restoration of Symphony Hall work for our neighborhoods and Newark. It defines our Symphony Works approach” said Nash Laird.

What Counts? 

That neighborhood work is anticipated to jump start construction within walking distance of the 200 thousand square foot facility, fulfilling the market potential of 1000 units of housing and 400 creative economy and other jobs in ways that strengthen surrounding neighborhoods and build wealth for longtime residents and small businesses entrepreneurs.

First Steps

Neil Heller, principal of Neighborhood Workshop, describes the first steps he’s taking to operationalize those local benefits: To implement such an aspiration, I pull data to answer the question of exactly where and how to start.  I ask four questions: what fits on the neighborhood lots as they are configured, what’s allowed by local zoning, what’s in demand that will sell or lease in the market, and what “pencils”, meaning given local construction costs and achievable rents or sale prices what can be feasibly built to make a return” Heller said. The resulting building types (whether they be a duplex, an owner occupied multi-unit rental property or a reinvestment renovation of an existing residential building) and target locations are where such an effort can start. Tomorrow.  Heller describes that “When you know the numbers, you can start implementation. Until you do that it’s just guesswork and hope. Our analyses pinpoints where small developers can start implementing a community vision so it gets implemented, one building at a time.“  


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November 28, 2020