16B — October 10 - 23, 2014 — New Jersey — M id A tlantic
Real Estate Journal
N ew J ersey Those involved discuss the project’s early days, future The Berger Organization’s Military Park building transforming Newark neighborhood
EWARK, NJ — The ribbon cutting of Newark’s Military Park marked a rebirth for one of the city’s most sig- nificant historic landmarks. It also marked a milestone in the transformation of its neighborhood. Just howmuch impact is the stunning new park having on the commu- nity? In the following inter- view, Miles Berger of The Berger Organization, an active, long-time Newark of- fice and hotel owner/operator; and Dan Biederman and Ben Donsky of the Military N
enue-generating standpoint, Military Park will continue to evolve. What you see in two years will be better. What you see in 5 or 10 years will be great. This property ultimate- ly will serve as an important forecourt and amenity for the neighborhood’s commercial, cultural and residential com- ponents. So far, how is the new Military Park impacting the neighborhood? Berger: The remaking of Military Park has trans- formed the atmosphere on Park Place. Everyone is say- ing that the park is beautiful. The people who work and live here are taking real pride in what already has been ac- complished. This summer, prior to Mayor Ras Baraka’s inaugural ball at our Robert Treat Hotel, we catered a two- hour cocktail reception in the park. More than 1,000 invited guests attended. In the nearly 40 years our firm has been involved in Newark, we have never seen Military Park host an event of that magnitude. The outstanding work by the Military Park Partnership, clearly enabled us to use the park as the venue for such an important occasion. Is the project meeting early expectations? Biederman: From the out- set, we knew what we could create here. Military Park in many ways mirrors Bry- ant Park. The are both the same size, sit within a busi- ness community and border a cultural institution (the New Jersey Performing Arts Cen- ter and the New York Public Library, respectively). And while they also both symbol- ized urban decay, we could see their potential to serve as vital asset for their communities. Based on what Bryant Park has become, we fully expected that Military Park would soar. Donsky: That said, we have had a few surprises, par- ticularly in our demographic study. For example, we are very pleased at the number of women who are patroniz- ing the park. More than 50% of our lunch-time visitors are female. Considering that women tend to be more skep- tical of public spaces, this is a gratifying testament to the atmosphere we have created. Additionally, we are seeing more “regulars,” much earlier than we did at Bryant Park. n
Biederman: The construc- tion is 98% completed, and our daily programming sched- ule is ramping up nicely, with offerings ranging from fitness classes, poetry readings and children’s activities; to free concerts, an outdoor film series and a weekly farmer’s market. The opening of the park restaurant in the fall will be the final major ele- ment to fall into place. How- ever, as we have learned at Bryant Park, the project will really never be finished. From a programming, maintenance and enhancement, and rev-
its early days and its future potential. What is the status of the Military Park redevelop- ment? Is it done?
Park Partnership , the non- profit corporation responsible for the redesign, construction, and ongoing maintenance of the park discuss the project,
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