The second phase of construction begins on a new affordable housing complex in Newark’s central ward. The planned 60-unit Somerset Brownstones off of Spruce Street are being built at the former site of the Douglas and Harrison Apartments.
“You couldn’t even walk sometimes down this block,” said Newark City Councilwoman Lamonica McIver. “My mom would tell me to make sure I got back to the other side quickly once I was out of school. We have sent his area transform. When I talk about this project, I think of it as the last piece to this area in the central ward to make things complete here.”
Mayor Ras Baraka says the redevelopment is a testament to the resilience of residents in an area that was once in decline.
“Around the country where new neighborhoods are being built, the folks that used to live there have to go. That’s not the story here. The story here is the new neighborhood is being built and the people who lived here through difficult times will be able to enjoy more prosperous times,” Baraka said. “If you were a part of that neighborhood by the grace of god, you get to see a new neighborhood go up and be a part of that neighborhood as well.”
The Douglas Harrison homes were demolished in 2010. Phase one of the redevelopment project turned a portion of the site into a public park, and an affordable housing complex for seniors and homeless veterans. The Somerset Brownstones when complete are mostly for low income families.