Ron Beit, a New York real estate developer, has created a quintessential public private partnership in Newark, NJ called The Teacher’s Village. Born out of a need for housing for low- mid- income working people and a daughter’s question about how you make a community, Teacher’s Village was completed in 2016.
Teacher’s Village is a 400,000 square foot redevelopment complex, designed by Richard Meier no less, that blends residential, commercial and retail needs. Residential apartments are marketed to and subsidized for teachers. The complex includes a solar fitness center, bakery, three schools, a day care facility and free access to neighboring recreational and cultural amenities.
Beit believes that teachers do and will continue to put Newark on a path to prosperity, not Fortune 500 companies, luxury condos, casinos or sports teams. “When my daughter, then 8 at the time, asked me what makes a community, I thought, well teachers do…teachers and librarians and postal workers and everyone who makes to community function. These people don’t often have the money to live in their communities so I thought to create a place in this community where people could actually live and thrive.”
Beit formed RBH Group some years ago as a way to piece together 79 parcels of land including empty parking lots and abandoned buildings in Newark’s central downtown area. He converted two more downtown sites…one that serves as a Makers Village for Aero Farms that grows greens and herbs without sunlight or soil and one called the Four Corners Millennium Project, a mixed use residential, hotel, office, retail building in Newark’s historic district.
He originally pushed for the project in the mid 2000’s during Cory Booker’s tenure as Newark’s mayor. (Booker is now one of New Jersey’s US Senators.) Beit received a reported $100M in city, state and federal tax breaks for the project. 10 of Newark’s public schools were transferred to the Newark Housing Authority for housing. And Beit has put together partnerships with Prudential and Goldman Sachs for the benefit of this project.
Now that the Teacher’s Village is up and established in Newark, Beit is taking the concept and project blueprint national. Teacher’s Corner in Hartford, CT is on tap; Teacher’s Square in Chicago is in the works; and discussions are taking place in Tulsa, OK with the Kaiser Family Foundations. Miami and California are also locations in Beit’s head to explore.
Interesting how land developers can evolve into cultural and economic game changers, don’t you think?