Sustained Momentum: NJIT Alum Continues to Revive Downtown Newark

Written by: Shydale James,
Real estate developer and NJIT alum Samer Hanini
“I think the best thing for NJIT is it being in the heart of Newark."

 

Whole Foods Market, Chipotle and Hotel Indigo – Newark’s first boutique hotel – have all served as signifiers of urban revitalization in New Jersey’s largest city.

And the establishments are also all housed in buildings rehabbed and developed by the Newark-based Hanini Group, a firm co-founded in 2004 by real estate developer and NJIT alum Samer Hanini.

Since graduating from NJIT in 1999 with a B.Arch. and obtaining a master’s degree in infrastructure planning in 2003, Hanini has made great strides to reinvigorate the Central Business District in Newark, where his alma mater calls home. He also recently established The Hanini Scholarship, a $50,000 endowment to be bestowed upon an incoming freshman architecture student from Newark.

“I think the best thing for NJIT is it being in the heart of Newark,” said Hanini who received an Alumni Achievement Award from NJIT in 2015. “Newark has so much history. This is the third oldest city in the country. The amount of architecture and planning that’s right here within footsteps of the school, I think, is a huge benefit.”

The Hanini Group, which develops, owns, operates and manages real estate properties in Newark, has been celebrated for its scrupulous preservation of Brick City’s historic, century-old buildings.

The firm’s crowning jewel is the Hahne & Co. building, a $174 million, mixed-use property. Once an art deco department store, the 500,000-square-foot space now houses chic apartments, a Barnes and Nobel, Petco, Whole Foods Market, and will soon welcome Marcus B&P – a new eatery from restaurateur and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.

“From where we started – from NJIT days to today – every year you’re learning something new,” said Hanini. “We definitely enjoy it. It’s very stressful. But at the end of the day, I think you end up delivering something everybody needs in the city.”