Capital Improvements

Newark Downtown District Streetscape Improvement Project Overview

With the support of the City of Newark Administration and the Newark Municipal Council, the Newark Downtown District (NDD) directed the largest Capital Project ever to be financed by a Special Improvement District (SID) in the State of New Jersey. This $17.5 million Capital Streetscape Improvement Project (the Project) remade 56 blocks of downtown Newark, improving sidewalks, lighting, signage, horticulture, benches, trash receptacles and more.

“This is an exciting time for downtown Newark. The Newark Downtown District’s Streetscape Improvement Project is the first significant, wide-scale Capital Improvement Project to take place in downtown Newark in over a generation,” says Anthony McMillan, Chief Executive Officer of the Newark Downtown District.


In 1998, the Newark Municipal Council approved the creation of the Newark Downtown District, a Special Improvement District dedicated to providing supplemental cleaning services, hospitality/security services, marketing, special events, and physical improvement programs for the downtown district. The SID is funded through a special assessment on nearly 600 commercial properties in downtown Newark. Since the Newark Downtown District became operational, it has hauled away literally tons of trash, produced and initiated events such as weekly Farmers Markets and Foodtopia Food Festivals, managed a $1 million façade improvement program for small businesses that yielded $10 million in private investment, and produced collateral materials to promote downtown Newark to visitors and investors such as the Downtown Newark Map, Downtown Newark Cultural Guide, Downtown Newark Restaurant Guide, and the Downtown Newark Real Estate Marketing Packet.

The Newark Downtown District is excited to have completed this ambitious project, the $17.5 million renovations of the downtown streetscape.


The Newark Downtown District’s Streetscape Improvement Project was financed through an innovative partnership with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The NJEDA approved $10 million in bonds to be issued on behalf of the NDD, and the debt service on the bonds are being paid for by the Newark Downtown District (NDD).

The remainder of the $17.5 million will be supplied through cash and in-kind commitments from the City of Newark, the Newark Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), the Newark Downtown District (NDD), and PSE&G.

Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker says, “We are particularly thrilled that we were able to finance this Project through mostly private resources – and at minimal cost to the citizens of Newark.”

Project Team

The streetscape design was led by BRV Corporation of New York and Stantec/Vollmer, a Newark and New York-based engineering and landscape architecture firm, with support from H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture LLC. The team previously worked together on large streetscape improvement projects in New York City in the areas of Grand Central, Bryant Park, and 34th Street. The wayfinding signage was designed by Newwork.

Project Design

Daniel Biederman, Principal of BRV Corp., says, “The Downtown Newark Streetscape Improvement Project will in some ways be better than those programs I’ve led in Manhattan since we were able to learn from those experiences and tweak the design and materials to best serve the City of Newark.”

All fixtures are finished in a high performance, graffiti-resistant, color coating in the City of Newark standard black.

Lighting – Four different tiers of streetlamps – reflecting the size and character of the streets – make the sidewalks of downtown Newark continuously bright, creating a safe and inviting atmosphere for pedestrians. Metal halide lamps have replaced the high-pressure sodium vapor lamps, providing a brighter, whiter light. “The difference is day and night,” says H3 Principal, John Fontillas. Certain street lamps feature banner arms allowing the Newark Downtown District to promote cultural events and activities downtown, while also branding the district. Other poles feature arms for hanging baskets allowing for more greenery against the urban streetscape. The street lamp luminaries and poles are custom-fabricated by Hadco of Littletown, PA.

Benches – The Newark Downtown District benches have a frame made from recycled steel and are designed for low maintenance and high durability in an urban environment.

Street trees and grates – Four different groups of trees are planted, reflecting the scale and character of individual streets. Smaller, columnar trees are planted on narrow side streets, while larger, wider varieties grace larger boulevards like Broad Street. All of the trees have been selected for their attractiveness as well as their ability to thrive in an urban environment. Distinctive tree pits formed by granite curbing provide abundant space and water for healthy tree growth. The pits are also adorned with attractive flower beds for seasonal display.

Where sidewalks are narrow, attractive metal tree pit grates allow for air and water to reach the root systems while providing for a smooth and safe pedestrian surface. In areas where vaults beneath sidewalks and other obstacles prevent installation of tree pits, planter boxes with lush seasonal foliage reinforce the uniqueness and attractiveness of downtown Newark.

Trash receptacles – Since 2000, the Newark Downtown District has installed 250 new trash receptacles to aid in the reduction of litter downtown, and the Newark Downtown District Clean Team has collected more than 14,000 tons of trash. The new trash receptacle has a 36-gallon capacity and a decorative shell enclosure that contains a low-cost polyethylene liner. Their clever side access door allows personnel to empty them easily without heavy lifting. The recycled steel receptacle has a high-performance finish which resists graffiti and vandalism.

Wayfinding signage – For more information, please contact the Newark Downtown District (NDD) at 973-622-2002.