The ultimate goal in planning is to promote the public interest, but how true is this? How do plannersknow what the public interest is in every community? When there is a new development in a city, one side of the public interest is always sacrificed. Newark, New Jersey is a city that has faced poverty and struggle for several decades. It is a city that many developments and plans are created to help solve this problem; or at least they think.
One questionable plan was the construction of the Prudential Center in 2007. The center was created to be the home of the New Jersey Devils hockey team. Planners believed that the opening of the Prudential Center was going to improve the city in any way possible by bringing wealthy people into the city. During hockey games, Newark residents can see a swarm of wealthy New Yorker’s come from Penn Station to attend these games and leave immediately after. Attached to the center is a Marriott hotel as well as high-end restaurants that most residents could not afford. The creation of this center aimed to help improve the economy as a whole rather than the residents. The residents do not benefit directly from the prudential center and that is an unfortunate sacrifice that happened.
However, there are other ways where planners are putting the people first. There is a plan where an abandoned building will be used as a mixed-use complex that will house a Whole Foods, housing units and a Rutgers University department. This plan will not only help with the problem of the city having too many abandoned buildings but it will also create many jobs. “Whole Foods is expected to create 200 new jobs, 140 of which would be full-time. Other retail on the site is expected to provide 120 jobs, while its construction jobs are estimated at 350. Rutgers estimates it will create 10 to 20 new jobs”. There will also be 160 housing units and “40 percent are considered affordable housing, according to the EDA”. One issue of this plan is the fact that most residents would not be able to afford shopping in Whole Foods. The median household income for Newark residents is under $34,000 a year. When people have low-income, they are not thinking about healthy eating, their priority is surviving. Whole Foods offers nutritious options, but only to those who can afford it.
If planners want to plan for the interest of the city’s people, then the development of Aerofarms may be the solution. Aerofarms are farms where plants grow from mist and LED lighting rather than the outdoors. There is a plan to take an abandoned brewery in the Ironbound and transform it into an Aerofarm where it will grow about 2 million pounds of leafy greens every year. This project “is expected to create 69 new full-time jobs with a median salary of $53,572”. Not only will it create needed jobs for the residents, it will encourage Newark residents to create their own Urban gardens and eat healthier. Many urban areas are limited to unhealthy eating choices which results in early age health deterioration, obesity and many other health problems.
If planners put the interest of the people first, then great things can come out of planning. Instead of knocking down businesses and residential areas for an arena, use the abandoned buildings the city has and create something the residents will appreciate. Not only are these plans providing jobs for people, they are making their overall standard of living better. Overtime, the people of Newark will highly benefit from these plans.