The Hahne & Co. building on Broad Street in Newark first opened its doors in 1901 and was considered as the most elegant department stores in America. It was one of the last surviving downtown department stores in New Jersey as most stores moved on to the suburbs. For almost the past 30 years, the building was boarded up and empty, and was a reminder of the bygone era of retail and the stagnation of progress in Newark.
Today the Hahne's building is getting a creative face lift and could be a crucial lesson for suburban malls, which will most likely undergo similar transformation in the era of online retail. The 400,000-square-foot Hahne's building is being converted into a mixed-use complex that will feature apartments, an arts and culture center for Rutgers University, a Whole Foods store and other retailers on the street level.
James Hughes, dean of the Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, is an expert on demographics, housing and New Jersey economics who said that some suburban malls that are struggling will have a similar transformation into a mixed-use complex. “You see this being done already in some places – they restore grid street patterns, put retail on the ground floor, residences up above, and redevelop those sites a sort of mini-town centers,” he said.
The project has a long list of collaborators such as L+M Development Partners, Prudential Insurance Co., Rutgers University, Goldman Sachs & Co. and Citigroup. Margaret Anadu, managing director in the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group said she likes the project because of its “ability to have so many strong social impacts in so many ways.” The project will provide mixed-income housing, create jobs, and it will reconnect the city as a prominent landmark again.
The Hahne's building was an important part of Newark's prosperous history and it was able to do so with the support of the wealthiest families from Newark in the past and its elegant architecture. Current supporters of the Hahne's project are optimistic that it will be a success with the list of big supporters backing the project. This project is evident in which history and current time coincide. As a result, it coincidently conforms to the shifting preferences of the retail landscape, which is moving from suburban areas towards the downtown landscape.
Additional Information:L+M Development Partners: About
Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group: Impact Investing