Edison’s Gottesman supports High Line-like park in Newark

Landlord had long opposed West Chelsea park, but eventually came around

Site plan of Mulberry Commons in Newark and Jerry Gottesman
Site plan of Mulberry Commons in Newark and Jerry Gottesman

Edison Properties chairman Jerry Gottesman, who once implored New York City to tear down the High Line before it was converted into a multi-million-dollar tourist attraction, is now supporting plans for a similar park in Newark, New Jersey.

Gottesman is getting behind a plan for a raised pedestrian-bridge that will connect a 22-acre public-private redevelopment called Mulberry Commons, at the center of which will sit a vacant warehouse that Edison is converting into retail and loft-style office space to the tune of $80 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and developers unveiled their plan last month for the mixed-use Mulberry Commons. The bridge, which won’t be built on old railroad tracks like the High Line, will create a pathway connecting the city’s former industrial Ironbound neighborhood with Newark Penn Station and a planned 3-acre park near the Prudential Center downtown.

Edison [TRDataCustom] owns six sites around the planned park, including an empty 110-year-old warehouse. The company is pumping another $20 million into the park and bridge, which will basically be the front door to its warehouse-conversion project called Ironside Newark.

“We considered all options, including tearing it down until we started seeing what other people were doing with old warehouse buildings,” said Robert Selsam, chairman of Edison’s board.

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Gottesman, who started the Newark-based Edison Properties in the 1950s with his late brother, slowly came around to supporting the High Line after many years.

He and about a dozen other property owners in the area had lobbied for the city to rip the tracks down. He was known to order his staff to mail pieces of debris that fell from the tracks onto his property to elected officials.

The turning point came when the city rezoned the area, allowing for greater density and transferring air rights.

Edison in 2015 sold a full-block site along the High Line for more than $800 million to Ziel Feldman, who is planning to build a hotel and 240 condos on the site.

Gottesman even brought Baraka on a tour of the High Line in part to allay concerns that it would draw foot traffic away from the city’s streetscape. [WSJ]Rich Bockmann