With “The Nina Simone House,” is Newark on the verge of developing its first artists’ housing co-op? That was the $64,000 question asked at the community meeting for the future Nina Simone House in Brick City’s South Ward neighborhood held on January 10. Spearheaded by the Mayor’s office along with the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC), the efforts to renovate the abandoned Clinton Trust bank building into a space residents could be proud of has been a long time coming.
How long, you ask? Try for so long that most of the meeting attendees can’t recall when they last saw the building in anything but its current dilapidated state. From what I gathered at Wednesday’s session, it’s been at least 40 years since the Clinton Trust has been the subject of kind words.
But now, that’s about to change. Two years after the official groundbreaking, actions are finally underway to see the abandoned bank building revitalized and a plan to serve Newark’s artistic community comes with it.
The end game for the Nina Simone House is not simply to turn it into an artists’ housing complex, but to also serve as an anchor for what the Mayor’s office hopes will become an arts and culture district for the entire city. Moving beyond the revitalization of downtown and the Ironbound, it seems Mayor Baraka hopes to have the Clinton Ave. corridor filled with murals, amphitheaters, performance spaces, and a host of other businesses that serve the creative community of Newark, as well as patrons of the arts. A lofty goal, indeed.