Developers compete for Newark land in city auction

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on September 16, 2014

Newark sold dozens of city-owned properties to help narrow the 2014 budget. The auction was held at Newark Symphony Hall.

 

NEWARK — Dozens of would-be developers piled into Newark Symphony Hall this morning hoping to score a good deal in an auction of city-owned properties.

The city is selling more than 60 properties including vacant lots, residential and commercial properties to address its 2014 budget crisis.

But about 27 of those properties never left the auction block today.

"I just wanted to see what the prices were going for," said Newark artist Matt Gosser.

"I thought these were kind of high. A lot of them...didn't sell because the minimum bid was too high."

Samuel Labeeb, 36, said he bought a property from the city last time Newark held an auction, but was not impressed with the selection this time around.

"This year they are very expensive and they are overrated," he said.

Pedro Gomes, 30, was eyeing several properties in the auction. Buying properties at the right price in Newark can be a sound investment, but some first-time buyers can overpay for the land, Gomes said.

"There is a lot of opportunities," he said. "At lot of companies are coming to Newark."

Jorge Caravalho, 50, was looking to buy the vacant lot next to his South Ward plumbing business.

"I'm hoping for a good investment," he said.

Newark officials disclosed in April that the city would need more than $93 million to balance its 2014 budget. Much of that deficit can be attributed to a shortfall in property tax revenue in 2013.

On July 1, the city council introduced a budget of nearly $800 million, but it relied on the city selling about $47 million dollars worth of foreclosed properties by the end of the year--a figure many council members said was unrealistic.

Baraka has touted plans for other ways to reduce the deficit including asking the state for about $30 million dollars in transitional aid.

The proposed 2014 budget would increase taxes for the average homeowner from $5,082 last year to $5,333.

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