Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD) Transforms Historic Newark, New Jersey Neighborhood

Green Housing and Job Training, Community Agriculture, and Historic Preservation Are Core Elements of LPCCD's Redevelopment Model

NEWARK, N.J.--()--As the leaves on Lincoln Park's trees undergo seasonal changes, the efforts of the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD) continue to transform the historic Newark neighborhood. Born out of a grassroots movement, this revitalization project is an example of urban redevelopment at its best. What started out as an engaging neighborhood participatory planning process over a decade ago, has culminated in the creation of the Lincoln Park Redevelopment Plan and the development of an national award-winning urban eco-arts village in the Lincoln Park section of Newark. For more information about LPCCD visit www.lpccd.org or call 973-242-4144.

LPCCD has made great strides this year, including commencing construction on a $21 million, 66 affordable housing project, the launch of a farm, the stabilization of the South Park Calvary Presbyterian Church Façade (the Facade), the instructing and job placement of graduates of the NJ Department of Labor's Green Job Training Program and certification as a United States Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) Gold Neighborhood Development project.

"We are living and working in the most challenging economic times of our lives, thus to continue to work on a project that is changing a neighborhood so radically in Newark is exciting and a blessing," says Baye Adofo-Wilson, the Executive Director of LPCCD.

Green Housing Grows in Newark

LPCCD was awarded a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Award, which included federal stimulus dollars. The official groundbreaking celebration was held in April 2010. The affordable housing project, which is a USGBC LEED Gold project, is a collection of four apartment buildings, comprised of one-, two- and three-bedroom rentals. The units are scattered between four different sites. The first building at 18-28 West Kinney Street will be completed in December, and residents are expected to move in by the end of the year. The second building, located at 65 Lincoln Park, is slated to be finished in February 2011. The third and fourth buildings, located at 39-43 Beecher Street and 15-17 Lincoln Park, are scheduled to be completed in May 2011.

Rental prices start at $691 to $945 a month. The income requirement for a one-bedroom ranges from $23,520 to $35,200; for a two-bedroom income ranges from $28,260 to $43,950; and for a three-bedroom the range is $29,640 to $51,000. Presently, units are being rented on a first come, first serve basis and interested applicants should call 973-621-6005 to get income certified or 973-504-8751 for rental information.

"Building economic diversity into our housing units in this redeveloping neighborhood ensures that low-income families have access to this community," Wilson says. LPCCD is fulfilling their promise to build with the latest in green amenities, including Energy Star Appliances, enhanced insulation and mechanical system, "all of this which assists in keeping the operating costs down," Wilson says.

The mixed-use buildings at 450-460 Washington Street were the first set of eco-friendly units LPCCD completed. Current residents are amazed, not only by the aesthetics, but with the use of recycled material throughout the homes and cheaper gas bills.

Lincoln Park resident Alturrick Kenney, a Newark native, says he's benefited from the green initiatives and he appreciates LPCCD's approach to redevelopment. "They aren't pushing anyone out, but rather working within the community," Kenney says. "It gives you a greater sense of pride, and you don't feel like anyone is taking your property. We are relocating within our city and there are no walls between us."

Finding Faith in Church Facade's Renewal

The Lincoln Park neighborhood has been a diverse community for more than 100 years and it has historically been a community of activism. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln spoke on the steps of South Park Calvary Presbyterian Church, the first racially integrated church in Newark. The property was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 as a significant example of Greek Revival style architecture exhibited in the façade which features an entrance portico with four large Ionic columns and twin circular colonnaded towers modeled after historic precedents including the ancient Choragic monument of Lysicrates at Athens, Greece. The South Park Calvary Presbyterian Church burned down in 1992, and all that remains is the Façade.

"The restoration of the Façade is one of the most exciting projects I have ever worked on," Wilson says. "Our goal is to create a portal into the Lincoln Park community, a gateway for downtown Newark and a symbol of rebirth in Newark."

The emergency stabilization work on the Façade is scheduled to be completed by this year. The restoration of the Façade, which includes stone restoration, landscaping, fencing, lighting and the development of a performance stage will start in Spring 2011 and should be finished by the middle of the Summer.

Neighborhood Fertile Ground for Farm

As work on the Facade is just beginning, the land behind it has evolved into an urban farm. The farm, which launched in July 2010, is an extension of the LPCCD's mission to build an eco-friendly community that creates jobs as well as a place for the community to get fresh produce.

View Farm Video - http://bit.ly/bV3EWJ

The half-acre farm, managed by two local residents, hired through the Essex County Urban League's "Mature Worker" Program, offered a wide variety of vegetables and herbs through October. Urban rangers from the Greater Newark Conservancy also helped harvest the produce. Rob Wisniewski, LPCCD Director of Sustainable Development, facilitated a training and the rangers helped with some of the much needed labor.

More than 30 people have signed up for weekly shares and the farm was a welcome addition to the neighborhood for Newark residents like Fatimah Raymond. "What's appealing is the convenience, freshness and that its occurring right here in my backyard. It couldn't get any better than that," Raymond says.

And an immediate motivation for the farm is to determine how to develop housing that is complemented by resources to sustain the neighborhood, Wisniewski says. And Raymond concurs. "Besides promoting healthy choices, it can also help transform communities by helping to re-educate our residents on the importance of having fresh vegetables as a part of our daily meals."

LPCCD staff and volunteers are currently doing community outreach and education to inform residents why the farm's growth is vital. "What's special is that we are growing food in Newark and distributing it in Newark," Wisniewski says. "I don't think that this is happening anywhere in New Jersey: An urban farm exclusively producing and distributing in a city."

Putting the Community to Work

Demand for skilled workers in the energy efficiency field is growing and LPCCD has responded by offering a free job training program to gain skills and move up the green collar job ladder. "It's not enough to just create a green community," says Rob Wisniewski, the lead instructor for the Green Job Training Partnership Program. "We are trying to generate a green work force, to empower others to bring this knowledge to this and other communities."

The program is an intense five-week course that combines classroom and field work experience. The curriculum includes job readiness training; Energy Efficient Assistant courses provided by the Center of Energy and Environmental Training; and hands-on courses on how to install insulation, sealing air leaks and how to assess the energy-efficiency of a home. The goal of the program is to prepare participants for job titles that include energy auditors, energy efficiency outreach program coordinators and construction laborers. The Green Jobs Training Program has graduated 52 people over the last year with a 98 percent job placement rate. The utility companies, energy efficiency consulting and auditing firms are among the businesses hiring the graduates.

Gilbert Santana understands the need for a green job training program. In 2009, Santana came across information about the LPCCD's new class in the unemployment office. With a background in administration and managerial work, Santana, unemployed, was looking to get his foot in the door of the growing energy efficiency industry.

Shortly after the initial course, Santana was chosen to work as an auditor with PSE&G's energy efficiency program. After several months, Wisniewski encouraged Santana to apply for a job in the PSE&G program. This past June, Santana became the outreach manager in business development for the PSE&G Energy Efficiency Program. And while, not all the trainees have gotten managerial type jobs, Wisniewski and others work to match the graduates with jobs that fit their skill set.

The graduates are encouraged to help themselves. "It's what you make it," Santana says.

About Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District

Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District is a non-profit 501© (3) organization with a mission to plan, design and build a comprehensive arts and cultural district in the Lincoln Park/Coast area of the City of Newark, New Jersey.

Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD) is transforming a low-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey from blighted lots into an urban eco-village. Leading the revitalization of an emerging arts and cultural district, LPCCD is one of the nation’s best practices in sustainable urban development. The project includes 300 LEED United States Green Building Council certified units, music festivals, historic restoration projects and the Museum of African American Music, a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Contacts

FEMWORKS
Kimberlee Williams, 973-494-9705
kwilliams@femworksllc.com

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Contacts

FEMWORKS
Kimberlee Williams, 973-494-9705
kwilliams@femworksllc.com