A Manhattan-based architect offered a glimpse of what Newark’s skyline could look like in a decade. Marat Mutlu, founding principal of INOA Architecture, revealed a rendering to the city’s Central Planning Board in February that shows a dramatically transformed city with at least eight new towers taller than 20 stories.
The purpose of the architect’s appearance at the Central Planning Board was to present plans for a controversial 45-story residential building at 571 Broad Street. Mutlu had the task of convincing the board members that, despite being located in a historic district, his proposed skyscraper was in scale with the rest of the neighborhood. The application ultimately passed.
“Once all these projects start slowly getting built up, the skyline will change,” said Mutlu, who also designed Halo Newark, which is currently under construction at 289-301 Washington Street. “Our project provisionally complies and blends with this skyline.”
Backed by developer İsrael Weiss from Ocean View Capital Management, the proposed Arc Tower would be located in the Military Park Historic District and requires knocking down two buildings, including a 19th-century row house. Newarkers testified at the Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission meetings that the existing, dilapidated buildings need to be torn down for public safety alone.
Others believe the Arc Tower could become a new symbol of the revitalized city. “Newark is long overdue for an architectural icon,” said Jacob Felson, a downtown resident. “If built, I think the Arc Tower will become an iconic symbol for the city, enhancing its reputation and encouraging additional development.”
Despite several appearances before the Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission, the application failed to get enough votes to permit the demolition. Nevertheless, Weiss is pressing forward with the plans and local preservationists are threatening litigation.
Zemin Zhang, executive director of Newark Landmarks and a James Street resident, called the building a “monstrosity” and listed eight reasons for opposing the development in a letter to the editor. “We are ready to challenge the application in the public, or in the court,” Zhang said.
Zhang’s fear is that the real estate market will eventually cool, “risking a permanent scar in the middle of tremendous revitalization work over the years.” “Newark has had a long and troubled history of these real estate speculations,” Zhang said.