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Newark looks to create new downtown vision

The village’s ill-fated urban-renewal effort of the 1970s saw architecturally significant buildings razed, only to be replaced by the cookie-cutter variety — or worse, parking lots.

The changes left the village, which still sports scenic neighborhoods and a growing business base, lacking a “sense of place,” said Mayor Jonathan Taylor.

“We want to find a way to bring that back,” he said.

The revitalization has begun.

A number of new businesses are setting up shop in downtown, ushering in significant building renovations. The village is in the midst of a two-year, multi-million-dollar South Main Street reconstruction project.

There’s an energy, Taylor noted, that can be used as a springboard.

That’s why the village is embarking on a project designed to envision a new downtown, one that brings back that sense of place to benefit not only those who live in Newark now, but to help attract new residents and businesses.

The village has enlisted the talents of Design Connect, a student-run, community design organization based at Cornell University that is helping Newark create a new look for the central business district.

In turn, said William Herman, a Cornell student and leader of the team working in Newark, “it gives students real-world experience.”

The Newark project is unique for Design Connect. Herman explained the group normally works with municipalities and community organizations on specific projects, such as designing a playground for a park.

“This is a little more abstract,” he said.

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