"Foot traffic creates the vitality of the urban experience," said Kevin Riordan in The Star Ledger

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Saturday, July 8, 2017
Newark, NJ

The Star Ledger

The Gateway office complex in New Jersey's largest city is like a glass and steel fortress in an empty no-man's land. There are no storefronts on the sidewalks, where few pedestrians can be found. Even the entrances to the complex are hard to find.

Gateway, along with its enclosed concourses, was aimed at letting office workers commute in and out of Newark without ever setting foot on city streets.

Flash-forward 50 years, a few blocks to the west, to where the atrium at the Hahne & Company mixed-used development on Broad Street opened this past January.

Like Gateway's walkway, the Hahne's atrium is also enclosed. But rather than insulating Hahne's residents, visitors and workers from the surrounding neighborhood, the walkway provides a direct link to it, said Jon Cortell, a vice president at L+M Development Partners, the project's developer. "Ultimately, Hahne's capitalizes on the reaffirmation that the city center is Broad Street," he said.

Kevin Riordan, executive director of the Rutgers Business School's Center for Real Estate, said that for better or worse, Gateway set a precedent for development in the surrounding area, where subsequent buildings are similarly bereft of ground-floor shops or other businesses to invite the public and generate economic activity for people other than the building's owners or the workers inside.

The Gateway model of architecture is just one way the riots have had an impact on some of the city's development that persists to this day, Riordan said.

"Whether it was consciously done that way, or 'Well, look what's been done, let's continue it this way,' that's why there's no foot traffic," Riordan said, noting that foot traffic is precisely what "creates the vitality of the urban experience."

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TAGS: Center for Real Estate Kevin Riordan