Newark Jersey City Opportunity Zones Top Ranked

National study Ranked 8,000 Opportunity Zones

The LOCUS National Opportunity Zone Ranking Report, first of its kind, ranks each of the designated Opportunity Zones based on its Smart Growth Potential (SGP) as well as Social Equity + Vulnerability Index score. Newark had Opportunity Zones in both categories and Jersey City was listed in one.

  • The LOCUS National Opportunity Zone Ranking Report ranked a census tract in downtown Newark in a tie for sixth place among the top Opportunity Zones for Smart Growth Potential, in a ranking of nearly 8,000 tracts.
  • In addition, a tract in Newark ranked fourth overall in locations deemed to be the top Social Equity and Vulnerable Places with High Smart Growth Potential, meaning the city not only could handle the investment, it would do so without hurting the existing population.

The report, from Smart Growth America, was produced by LOCUS in partnership with the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business and in collaboration with SPARCC, or Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge.

According to the report:

  • This research has revealed a tale of two zones: a majority of Americans in Opportunity Zones live in communities that force them to pay higher housing and transportation costs while being subjected to higher negative social and health impacts and a lower quality of life.
  • The magnitude and scale of this tragedy is a reality check that the Opportunity Zone tax incentive is not a silver bullet.
  • However, if leveraged properly with a robust, long-term funding and policy framework from all layers of government, this tax incentive could address decades of poor land use, institutional inequities, and development decisions to instead improve the quality of life for many Americans.

For Smart Growth Potential, Opportunity Zones were scored on four metrics — walkability, job density, housing diversity and distance to the nearest Top 100 central business district — to generate a final score ranging between 0 and 20.

  • A census tract in downtown Newark, along with one in Portland, Oregon, scored a 16 — or one less than census tracts in Oakland, Seattle, Baltimore (the Inner Harbor), Philadelphia (City Center East) and an additional tract in Portland.
  • Census tracts in Jersey City (Journal Square), with a 15, and a second tract in Newark (the North Ironbound), with a 13, were the only other New Jersey locations in the Top 50.

For Social Equity + Social Vulnerability, Opportunity Zones were scored on four variables — transit accessibility; housing and transportation affordability; diversity of housing tenure; and social vulnerability — to generate a final score ranging between 0 and 20.

  • The downtown Newark tract, with a score of 16, was one behind tracts in Portland, Oakland and Seattle. No other New Jersey tracts made the Top 50.

Mayor Ras Baraka said, according to ROI, that he’s thrilled the city has been identified as a top place to invest, but he noted that it did not come by accident. And that the city is doing all it can to take advantage of Opportunity Zones.

“We’ve already assembled teams in the city of Newark that are going to be targeting those tracts,” he said. “Teams that consist of planners, project managers and developers in those areas (will) begin taking inventory of all the abandoned property, abandoned land, the rents, everything that’s going on in that area.

We look at this as an incredible opportunity for the city to jumpstart a lot of development in areas where we have had no development.

Mayor Ras Baraka

“We have a heavy industrial area to around the airport that we also tagged as an Opportunity Zone because we want to encourage the kind of advanced manufacturing and development or job creation and growth in that area as well to help our residents get high-paying jobs.”

LOCUS Report

Smart Growth America

ROI Report

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