NEWARK-New Mayor Cory Booker has unveiled a redevelopment plan that’s aimed at getting the city’s abandoned properties back on the tax rolls. Estimates are that the list of properties may be as many as 600 throughout the city.

An ordinance now before the city council from the Booker administration proposes that the city would create a list of such properties, utilizing the expertise of city inspectors and other local officials. The ordinance also proposes that the owners of such properties would be required to rehabilitate or redevelop their properties or risk confiscation or foreclosure through tax liens. Administration officials say they won’t rule out the use of eminent domain in such cases.

The goal of creating or rehabilitating housing in the city’s wards and industrial development around the city’s port facilities is about both tax revenues and quality of life. “Removing abandoned properties will upgrade the quality of life for city residents,”says a spokesman. “It’s about both job creation and neighborhood revitalization.”

Mayor Booker’s plan also calls for an expedited zoning regulation process for developers who create downtown housing, especially of the affordable variety. Also part of the plan are streetscape improvements in various neighborhoods, as well as along portions of Broad and Market streets, the city’s busiest commercial streets. Besides city funding, city officials say they have more than $10 million in urban empowerment zone money to facilitate the streetscape improvements.

The effort from city hall comes at a time when residential development has shown new signs of life in Downtown Newark. The New York-based Cogswell Realty is finishing up the conversion of the Lefcourt Building, a 35-story former office building, into Eleven80, a 317-unit rental apartment building. The name reflects its street address of 1180 Raymond Blvd.

Cogswell also has plans in the works for as many as 3,500 more residential units in the city, a combination of rental apartments and condos. Upwards of 200,000 sf of retail space is also part of the company’s plans, with much of that in the city’s Military Park area.

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