Newark City Council approves shopping center redevelopment

By Tom Lehman 3:27am, April 23, 2013 - Updated 10:26am, April 23, 2013
Major changes could be on the way for the Newark Shopping Center after a redevelopment plan was approved by city council Monday night.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.

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The plan, which would see the renovation of the Newark Shopping Center, narrowly passed in a 4-3 decision, and only after council imposed a restriction on a six-story apartment building with 220 two-bedroom units that's part of the proposal.

"They restricted each unit to two unrelated people so it will substantially reduce the number of tenants in there," Funk says.

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Funk says his primary goal was to approve a plan to renovate the shopping center, which he said was in need of restoration. The plan calls for the construction of a drive-thru bank on the Main Street side of the area and would retain the shopping center's movie theater.

"I thought it was very important that the shopping center be approved, and that was the bottom line," Funk says.

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Councilman Mark Morehead voted against the plan for the Newark Shopping Center and another proposal that would see the construction of more than 160 cottage cluster and lodge apartments on both sides of Suburban Plaza that also was approved.

Morehead originally voted in favor of the proposal, but changed his mind when he considered the impact that the restriction might have when attracting possible tenants to the complex, which will also have an associated parking garage with 455 parking spots. It will be located where the bowling alley currently stands.

"I felt it important to side with the sense of reason as far as trying to improve the traffic situation which is always an issue with us," Morehead says.

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Councilmen Jerry Clifton and Luke Chapman also voted against the Newark Shopping Center plan.

Both Funk and Morehead raised their concerns about whether council was considering too many apartment complexes to serve the city's population.

Lisa Goodman, the project attorney representing Atlantic Realty Cos. Inc., says her client will now consider the plan with its amended deed restrictions.

The developer indicated it was willing to put forth $10 million to invest into improving and renovating the shopping center.

"So my client will go back and decide whether or not the two unrelated people is something they can live with. If it is, I'll presume they'll go ahead and record the plan. If it isn't, they'll have to figure out what to do next," Goodman says.

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