Boraie Development Reshapes Seth Boyden Court
Newark, New Jersey, hasn’t always been known to be a Mecca of bright new housing units and shopping centers. However, it was once known for being a bustling community center – that is, until most of its affordable housing units fell into disrepair and eventual abandonment.
One such housing unit is Westside Village. This complex was condemned in 2016 and has since been boarded up and fenced out. The complex contained only 48 residential units, however, those units provided affordable housing to those living in the area. A recent Rutgers study determined that the city needed at least 16,000 affordable housing units to meet local needs. This statistic ended up being one of the points Newark Mayor Ras Baraka ran on (and eventually won with).
Unfortunately, units like Westside Village and Seth Boyden Court didn’t meet basic community needs: which included a growing population and the need for safe, affordable housing. Seth Boyden Court closed in 2015 due to mold, and it wasn’t the only one to be closed for such safety issues.
What Happened to Newark’s Residential Neighborhoods?
Since Seth Boyden Court closed, it’s become littered with trash and graffiti. The area’s rough edges made it a hotspot for drug users and unit squatting. Vacant, refuse-heaped, closed blocks of old housing didn’t just bring in squatters, though – eventually, crimes increased.
Other once-residential areas were abandoned because of their age. Boyden-area buildings outgrew their antique charm and ran upkeep costs through the roof. Because the area was mostly low-income housing, the rental income made by these units – and the area itself – was not enough to safely sustain the upkeep of area buildings. So, when the units eventually fell into disrepair, it cost less to abandon them entirely than to deal with their renovation.
After years of sitting vacant, however, Newark Housing Authority has finally given Seth Boyden Court the thumbs up for demolition & re-development.
Seth Boyden Court’s Revitalization
The demolition comes after the implementation of Ras Baraka’s affordable housing unit commitment of 16,000 public housing units during his time in office. For Seth Boyden Court, Wasseem Boraie will be leading the team in rebuilding the neighborhood and adding to this goal.
Still, many are wondering why demolition rather than a renovation? As well as costing less than to gut and revamp the current infrastructure, the demolition of older buildings represents a new start. The goal of knocking down these buildings – home to crimes which, in part, were fueled by the lack of affordable housing — is to bring hope to Newark residents struggling with just staying alive. It also aims to boost the local community, which benefits people of all incomes.
In short – Waseem Boraie intends to elevate it from a place known for being rough and tumble to a place known for being clean for all. And in an age when gentrification is a continual issue, Waseem Boraie, in particular, was called in for several reasons. For one, the Boraie development crew is known for a quick turnaround, and reconstruction needs to happen fast so that people can obtain housing and the local economy can recover. Secondly, they are known for a multi-level development plan which integrates affordable housing into commercial areas, providing workplaces for people who may be looking to start anew.
Newark Housing Authority selected Boraie Development from an RFP to develop Boyden Court. Boyden Court will see a 2.5-acre expansion, adding an old school site to the housing area, which was exchanged by the Newark Board of Education. Phase 1 includes several hundred residential units – some affordable housing and some set to market rate. Some may even potentially be listed for sale.
About Wasseem Boraie and Boraie Development
Wasseem Boraie is no stranger to investment development. Boraie Development is a family-run development firm from New Brunswick. The development company has moved beyond the confines of New Brunswick in recent years and began working in places all along the east coast, most significantly in New Jersey. Boraie Development projects often focus on taking sites that would not normally be thought of as residential and making them inhabitable for a variety of different income levels and needs. Boraie Development gained notoriety after it teamed up with Shaquille O’Neall for downtown Newark development projects, which aimed at transforming the downtown.
The Seth Boyden Court development project will also likely involve famous athlete and former Newark resident Shaquille O’Neill in developing the non-residential aspects of the development process. Most importantly, O’Neill is interested in the educational and medical aspects of the development phase, as enriching his community is part of his philanthropic goals. O’Neill’s involvement, however, is likely to be beneficial for all involved – including Boraie and the greater Newark Community.
Waseem Boraie estimates the cost of Seth Boyden Court at approximately $150 million, but the development will pay off for both Boraie and the residents of the neighborhood, as the project will also include community-facing commercial development like a hospital and supermarket. Having these facilities nearby will provide jobs for the residents of these facilities, as well as needed services. This development not only proves that developers can make a profit while also helping communities, but it also proves that the future of Newark is bright.
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