Sprawling complex with 60 affordable units open in Newark neighborhood where crime was once rampant

New Jersey

NEWARK — Officials and community leaders celebrated the official opening of the new Somerset brownstones in the Central Ward Thursday.

The 4-building development boasts 60 units of affordable housing, all of them reserved for families earning below 60% of the area’s median income.

“As other cities around the state struggle with trying to build affordable housing, not wanting to build affordable housing,” Mayor Ras Baraka said at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Here in Newark every day we’re trying to find a way to build more affordable housing.”

The $21 million project which includes green space and playground, was spearheaded by developer The Michaels Organization in a partnership with the Newark Housing authority.

The development went up at a site previously occupied by the infamous Douglas-Harrison apartments which was riddled with crime and unsafe living conditions during the 80s and 90s. The complex was eventually demolished.

Decades later, the property now a haven for the community.

“This is what happens when community minded residents and corporations work together,” community advocate and former Assemblywoman Blonnie Watson said.

Fifteen of the units in the sprawling complex are being reserved for formerly homeless with a preference given to homeless veterans. Each unit is equipped with modern amenities like environmentally friendly appliances, central air and gas heat.

In addition to the Somerset brownstones, construction on a massive park is currently underway nearby. It’s all part of a revitalization effort in the Central Ward.

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