Who needs Amazon? Newark’s got $4B in development coming, and is looking for someone to guide it.

Updated Feb 20, 2019

With more than $4 billion of planned development in queue -- including housing by Shaquille O’Neal and Queen Latifah -- Newark officials will conduct a national search for a new leader to oversee economic growth in the city.

John Palmieri, Newark’s Director of Economic and Housing Development for the last six months, will retire in March to focus on family and personal issues, officials announced Wednesday.

Palmieri was first hired last year as the Deputy Mayor for economic growth, transportation and infrastructure and later, additionally took over the development department.

He previously led the Casino Reinvestment Development Agency after former Gov. Chris Christie appointed him in 2011.

Under Palmieri’s short tenure in Newark, the city passed a new, controversial rule that allowed much denser buildings in the Ironbound section of the city that reached up to 12- and 20-stories. The measure was initially overturned in court and then passed again by the city council this year.

He also helped oversee the PATH train extension to Newark airport and a plan to take advantage of the Opportunity Zone program, which encourages investment in troubled communities across the country.

Newark’s Chief Operations Officer, Natasha Love Rogers, will serve as interim director for economic and housing development while a task force conducts a national search for a permanent replacement. Rogers is a a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

Newark shakes up city's top jobs in push for a comeback

The task force will focus on finding a new director and also help the city position itself as a choice for large corporate relocations.

Newark was a finalist city for one of Amazon’s headquarters but was not picked.

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