After nearly 30 years, an abandoned and run-down department store building in downtown Newark, NJ, will once more become a hub of economic and social activity. The former Hahne and Company department store is a four-story, 303,000-square-foot building that sits across from Military Park, an active public gathering place, and the new Prudential headquarters. In 2016, the building will open its doors to a Whole Foods, as well as rentable office space, educational space for the Rutgers University art programs, and 160 housing units—40% of which will be affordable and income-restricted.
Reinvestment Fund and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) are co-lenders on this project, each providing financing to develop the Whole Foods and office space. The renovations will preserve key historical elements of the 19th-century building, while transforming its role in the health and development of downtown Newark.
The Whole Foods store will bring access to healthy foods to a community that is designated a food desert by the USDA and a Limited Supermarket Access area by Reinvestment Fund. As part of an effort to bring fresh, nutritious food to more low- and middle-income communities, Whole Foods plans to carry more of its affordable “365 brand” products than it does in its average store, and it is conducting outreach to learn what products are most desirable to local residents.
In addition to serving area households—of which 33% have annual incomes under $25,000, and 59% have annual incomes under $50,000—the new Whole Foods will serve commuters and tenants who share the building. The supermarket is expected to create 200 new jobs, with another 200 coming from anticipated tenants of the second floor office space. This project will provide a critical retail anchor to accelerate long-term efforts to revitalize downtown Newark.