On October 14, 2022, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved the creation of the Activation, Revitalization, and Transformation (ART) Program.
It establishes a one-time grant opportunity to support economic recovery in urban areas with mass transit that have faced economic harms from the reduction of commuters due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Funded at $10 million, the ART pilot program will address these harms through the creation of two programs, one for Real Estate Rehabilitation and Development projects and one for Public Space Activation initiatives.
“Supporting New Jersey’s iconic cities is an essential component of our state’s successful economic recovery,” said Governor Phil Murphy.
“Through catalytic investment in real estate development and public space activation projects, the ART Program will help municipalities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic thrive long into the future,” he added.
Approved by the New Jersey Joint Budget Oversight Committee last November, the ART program utilizes American Rescue Plan (ARP) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to reactivate and revitalize Atlantic City and Newark’s commercial corridors in the wake of COVID-19.
Commercial corridors play a vital role in both urban and rural geographies, serving as economic engines for communities by providing jobs that keep money circulating in the local economy, offer goods and services for residents, and power entrepreneurship as well as wealth building.
They also serve to foster arts and cultural activities, which drive dynamic, thriving communities.
To mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 and support the development and recovery of New Jersey’s commercial corridors, the ART Program will invest in the infrastructure, capacity building, and resources necessary to help Atlantic City and Newark recover from the pandemic and thrive for years to come.
The ART program establishes a competitive grant program that will provide $9.75 million in total funding for Real Estate Rehabilitation and Development and Public Space Activation programming that will be split evenly among Newark and Atlantic City.
ART’s Real Estate Rehabilitation and Development program will account for up to 70 percent of the total program funding ($3.4125 million per city) to support project-specific hard and soft costs that revitalize commercial corridors and incentivize catalytic redevelopment.
“The ART Program serves as a critical investment in New Jersey’s economically vital commercial corridors, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have experienced decreased capacity, foot traffic and revenue during the transition to remote work,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.
“Governor Murphy’s leadership is advancing the robust recovery of New Jersey’s commercial corridors that will ensure strong, resilient, and equitable economic futures for both Newark and Atlantic City,” he continued.
ARTs Public Space Activation program will account for up to 30 percent of the total program funding ($1.4625 million per city) to support public space activation initiatives such as placemaking, events, public art installations, signage, streetscape improvements, and small business support.
NJEDA Chief Community Development Officer Tai Cooper noted that the arts industry contributes $23 billion to New Jersey’s economy, representing nearly four percent of the state’s gross domestic product.
“The ART program will drive meaningful community engagement by convening local developers and artists with the business community,” said Cooper.
“The arts are an essential thread in the fabric of creative placemaking and the ART program will illuminate New Jersey’s rich and storied legacy in both the performing and visual arts,” she concluded.
To establish this program, the NJEDA will enter into two Memoranda of Understanding, one with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and one with the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, each for five million dollars of SLFRF funds.
Photo (by Adam E. Moreira via Wikipedia) shows Atlantic City Rail Terminal.