Sale of Ironbound lot could pave way for new era in iconic Newark neighborhood

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on December 14, 2015

The five-acre property that includes the well-known Iberia Restaurant and two storage facilities, was placed on the open market earlier this month

 

NEWARK - Bidding has opened on a large piece of property in the Ironbound District that stakeholders say could forever change the course of Newark's most iconic neighborhood.

The owners of the famed Iberia restaurant placed the 5.2-acre site on the open market earlier this month, and are courting developers who may see it as a prime parcel for a high-rise office or residential tower.

Frank Giantomasi, a real estate attorney with Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi who is representing the owners in the potential sale, said the site - with frontage on major thoroughfares Market Street and Ferry Street - could be key in the city's plans to attract new professionals seeking both easy access to Newark Penn Station and amenities including restaurants, shopping and nightlife.

"This could be the first development that truly creates a walking class of commuters," he said.

While skyscraping buildings are commonplace downtown, the structures have always remained west of Penn Station. Similarly, boons of retail and mixed-use development have popped up downtown around the Prudential Center and Military Park, though Giantomasi said similar growth in the Ironbound would open up even greater possibilities.

"This says positive things for Newark, shows that the development is not all on the downtown side. This is more community development, as opposed to being driven by the arena or the performing arts center," Giantomasi said.

The Ironbound District, with its vibrant population of Portuguese and Brazilian immigrants living in the dense neighborhoods of brick and clapboard houses, is often counted as among the most unique in all of New Jersey – a distinction locals would like to maintain.

The Iberia property is currently home to both the restaurant and two storage facilities, but is mostly occupied by blacktop parking spaces, which city officials have often lamented as a deterrent to major development as they look to create a transit-oriented district similar to what has sprung up around the PATH station in Harrison.

"We're slowly losing against towns like Harrison, Jersey City, Hoboken to develop the area around Penn Station, so we can create the conditions to attract new people,'' East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador told the Star-Ledger last year.

Development has recently begun to bubble in the area, however, with national chains beginning to appear alongside more deeply entrenched family businesses, and plans for a boutique hotel and new apartment buildings underway.

Though similar declarations of a new age in the Ironbound have come and gone before, Giantomasi said he believed the neighborhood has too much to offer not to rise to even greater heights.

"Ferry Street is a unique street in America," he said. "It's the closest thing we have to a Bourbon Street or something like that, with restaurants, nightlife, eating and drinking."

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment