Condemned Newark hospital to become vocational school

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on June 24, 2015

A rendering of the vocational school.

 

NEWARK — After years of delays, the long-empty former United Hospital site is coming down.

County officials announced Wednesday that demolition would begin on the 7.5-acre site on South 9th Avenue to make way for a vocational school.

Demolition will run through the end of this year, with construction expected to begin in 2016, county officials said. The "Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. Vocational Technical School Campus" is slated to open in 2018.

"We are pleased to get this school construction project started because it gets us on our way to creating a modern building that will provide our students with appropriate facilities to prepare for their futures," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. said in a statement about the project.

The demolition marks the end of a lengthy fight over the long-vacant property, which has been empty since United Hospital shut its doors in 1997. DiVincenzo has been advocating for a school on the site for years, but the county was locked in a legal battle with New United, a private company that had owned 60 percent of the land the hospital was built on.

Courts initially ruled that the county could take control of the condemned property, but an appeals court overturned the decision in favor of the private developer – who planned to open a medical center on the site.

The company settled with the county in December of last year, Clyde Pemberton of New United said in an interview Wednesday. 

"We decided to sell the property to the county," he said, declining to discuss the settlement amount.

Crews have been at the site since May preparing it for demolition.

Last month, a construction manager was killed after he fell down an elevator shaft while working on the site. The 51-year-old was a manager with Tricon Enterprises Inc., the company that was awarded a $1.6 million contract to raze the buildings on the former hospital campus.

Once finished, the new building will replace the aging Essex County Bloomfield Tech Campus and the Essex County North 13th Street Tech Campus in Newark, officials said.

"Today is a giant step forward," Superintendent Dr. Frank Cocchiola said in a statement.

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