NEWARK, NJ-Just 48 hours after the courts had cleared the way for this city’s housing authority to sell bonds in support of the proposed arena here, the bond issue raised a cool $200 million toward the $310 million project. The sale was handled by a group of financial institutions headed by Citigroup, and by the Roseland, NJ-based Powell Capital Markets Inc.

The issue was in the courts to begin with because a group of local organizations and individuals headed by councilmen Augusto Amador and Luis Quintana sued to block the sale, asserting that city money could be better used than for the proposed arena. Opponents of the arena want the whole thing on the ballot this fall as a citywide referendum.

But State Superior Court Judge Donald Goldman ruled that a public vote was not required for the bond issue to proceed. One final legal challenge remains: State Appellate Judge Howard Kestin has agreed to hear a request for a temporary restraining order. City officials could not be reached for comment.

If that legal challenge is cleared, the Newark Housing Authority will pay off the bonds over the next 33 years with money the city collects from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for leasing the Port of Newark’s marine terminal. The annual rent for the facility is $12.5 million.

The New Jersey Devils hockey franchise, which would be the primary tenant of the 18,000-seat venue, has pledged to pay $100 million toward the total cost of building the arena. The remaining funds, approximately $10 million, would come from other city funds.

The arena would be a focal point of a larger downtown redevelopment in New Jersey’s largest city. As envisioned by the administration of Mayor Sharpe James, the project would include up to seven office buildings, with much of the space occupied by city government, along with some 500,000 sf of retail space and entertainment.

James has already indicated that as much as $20 million of the total raised by the bond issue would be spent right now to cover certain pre-development costs. The arena site itself is a tract bounded by Market, Broad and Lafayette streets, and the ancillary development would generally surround it.

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