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McLaren Engineering Group earns ULI Excellence Award for work on Newark’s capital improvement project

McLaren Engineering Group was named a Urban Land Institute (ULI) Northern New Jersey (NNJ) Excellence Award winner as part of the project team that expanded Newark, N.J.’s Capital Improvement Program. McLaren provided the Newark Downtown District (NDD), a privately funded nonprofit organization, with a suite of engineering services to expand its Streetscape Design Project, garnering a ULI win for Best Public/Private Partnership.

McLaren’s work included updates to the district’s wayfinding program, design of decorative festival lighting throughout the city and street lighting for previously unimproved sections of the district.
ULI NNJ’s Excellence Awards celebrate the projects and people that have defined the region’s real estate landscape over the past year. McLaren Engineering Group and fellow award winners were honored at a gala on Nov. 7 at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, N.J.
Upon initial completion, the program became the largest project in New Jersey to be financed by a special improvement district (SID). The streetscape has encompassed the gateway area of downtown Newark in its entirety, including nearly 600 properties. McLaren, led by Dawson Bloom, vice president of civil engineering, was responsible for a three-tiered improvement plan for the district’s lighting and signage. This included assessments, planning, coordination, design and construction administration services.
Over a decade ago, the streetscape became a milestone for New Jersey’s most populous city. In May 2007, the NDD Board of Trustees approved $17.5 million in financing to transform 110 city blocks. The type and scope of this capital improvement for public streets had only been done a handful of times in the U.S. including Grand Central Partnership and 34th Street Partnership in New York City, and the Center City District in Philadelphia.
The project was initially jumpstarted by $10 million in bonds from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The financing was assembled in a cooperative effort between the Cory Booker administration, the Newark Municipal Council and the NDD. Phase One of the streetscape touched every block of the district, with improvements including planters, benches, trash receptacles, tree pits, decorative light poles, signage and granite corner treatments.
The wider project team recognized by ULI NNJ includes architects at Stantec Consulting and contractor, Berto Construction.