EDA accepting applications for $10M ART program aimed at activating foot traffic in Newark, A.C.

Program looking for projects involved in real estate rehabilitation or development or public space activation

It’s the question every municipal official and economic development expert has been asking since the pandemic: How do we get people to return to urban areas — bringing the foot traffic that is a key to economic growth and prosperity.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is taking a unique stab at it with its Activation, Revitalization and Transformation Program — a grant opportunity for projects involving either 1) real estate rehabilitation or development; or 2) public space activation.

The first round of the program, which has been funded at $10 million through the American Rescue Plan, will be for urban areas with mass transit that have faced economic disruption in Newark or Atlantic City. Additional rounds are expected to be announced.

In the initial phase, both Newark and Atlantic City will have $5 million in grants to award, with $3.5 million allocated for the real estate award and $1.5 for the public space activation award.

The EDA currently is taking applications for both programs — and will do so until 5 p.m. Aug. 22. After that, each application will be scored. Grants will be awarded on merit. This is not a first-come, first-served process.

For both programs, the projects not only must be located in Atlantic City or Newark (click here to view the available mapping tool), they also must be in the commercial corridor, defined as being within 1.5 miles of an active New Jersey Transit rail station.

For more information and to apply, click here.

To register for a virtual information session at 1 p.m. Wednesday, click here.

The NJEDA will host additional in-person events in Atlantic City and Newark in the upcoming weeks to provide opportunities for potential applicants and other stakeholders to learn more about the ART Program.

Here is more background:

The real estate rehabilitation or development award

Eligible applicants

  • Private or nonprofit developers that can demonstrate capacity to complete a development and redevelopment project or have experience with a project of a similar scope;
  • Nonprofit economic development or redevelopment agencies that can demonstrate capacity to complete a development or redevelopment project or have experience with a project of a similar scope;
  • Commercial property owner(s) that can demonstrate capacity to complete a development and redevelopment project or have experience with a project of a similar scope.

Eligible project activities

All capital construction projects must have a total cost of less than $10 million. These projects can include:

  • Renovation or restoration of vacant buildings, or square feet of vacant space within a partially occupied building;
  • New construction of at least 10,000 square feet on an existing vacant lot;
  • Acquisition costs;
  • Eligible projects can include mixed-used construction.

Ineligible activities

  • Demolition of a structure to create a vacant lot for future development;
  • Projects that are 100% residential construction.

The public space activation award

Eligible applicants

Nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) status, including but not limited to:

  • Economic development corporations;
  • Community development corporations;
  • Nonprofit economic development or redevelopment agencies;
  • Business improvement districts;
  • City improvement districts and art organizations.

Eligible project activities

Funding is expected to support the creation of public space activation initiatives, such as:

  • Placemaking projects, public art installations, signage, and streetscape improvements;
  • Activation of public spaces through events;
  • Operating costs for arts organizations;
  • Master/subleases for programmatic use (including incubator space, small business support, and events) in mixed use and commercial properties only.