On May 24, 2021, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced applications have reopened for the 21st Century Redevelopment Program, which had been put on hold in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Municipalities have 45 days from that date to apply for funding through the program.
The program makes grants up to $50,000 available to communities to help them redevelop, repurpose, or regreen vacant and underutilized retail or office park properties. Municipalities, counties, and redevelopment agencies have 45 days to apply.
The 21st Century Redevelopment Program was created in October 2018 in response to a number of demographic and economic trends that resulted in suburban offices and shopping malls emptying out, leaving communities stuck with the costs of maintaining infrastructure and roads around these facilities and a lack of resources to do so.
In response to stakeholder feedback, the NJEDA adjusted the eligibility criteria for the program in 2019 to make more properties eligible while ensuring that properties of significant scope and scale remain prioritized. To accommodate the significant business disruptions resulting from the COVD-19 pandemic and work-from-home directives, the NJEDA put the program on hold in April 2020.
The NJEDA will administer the program in accordance with the updated parameters approved in 2019, meaning grants of up to $50,000 are available to help municipalities, counties, and redevelopment agencies develop plans to repurpose vacant properties into productive economic assets.
Potential uses of the grant funding include, but are not limited to:
- Legal analysis to explore designating one or more relevant properties in the community as an “area in need of redevelopment;”
- Stakeholder engagement and facilitation to identify community desires and needs;
- Identification of appropriate funding sources to support community led re-use of one or more properties;
- Cataloging relevant retail and office properties in a community and identifying priority sites when considering community needs;
- Economic analysis relating to the feasibility of various redevelopment and/or reuse scenarios; and
- Land-use planning identifying the most suitable re-use scenarios.
Once all applications are received, staff will evaluate and score them competitively, with the fifteen highest scoring applications recommended to the Board for grants.
In addition to receiving funding, grant recipients will be required to participate in at least two events hosted by the NJEDA to foster a dynamic discussion about repurposing stranded assets and provide guidance to communities facing similar challenges.
Photo of Trenton, New Jersey courtesy of City of Trenton.