Rutgers University-Newark has joined with RBH Group, a Newark, New Jersey based social impact development company, to create Honors Living-Learning Community, a state-of-the-art learning and residence facility with dining, recreational, and academic spaces that will host upwards of 400 talented undergraduate students.

The approximately $70 million, 400-bed Honors Living-Learning Community will be a mixed-use development that will include residences, classrooms/work spaces, street level retail and parking, as well as a vibrant, open space that will be a gathering place for RU-N and the surrounding community. The estimated 320,000-square-foot project will include 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail. It will be located on the block bounded by New, Washington, Halsey and Linden Streets in downtown Newark. Perkins Eastman, an international architecture, design and planning firm, will design the project. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and be completed in 2018.

The Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC), is a transformative college access and success program that fosters the academic, social, and personal development of talented students from all walks of life with a desire to make a difference in their communities and beyond. With an innovative curriculum centered on themes of “Local Citizenship in a Global World,” The HLLC is an innovative RU-N initiative that is revolutionizing the notion of “honors” by creating intergenerational and interdisciplinary learning communities comprised of students, faculty, and community partners focused on tackling some of the nation’s most pressing social issues. Dynamic students are selected to join a living-learning community and intergenerational network across all intersections of identity focused on cultivating knowledge, fostering understanding across and within groups, and activating social, institutional, and cultural change. The current, inaugural cohort of 30 students will be joined by 60 more in fall 2016 who were selected from over 750 applicants. HLLC cohorts are planned to reach a steady state of 100 students per year by 2018, including first-year students and community college transfers.

The University selected RBH Group as the developer of this exciting urban learning community based upon a number factors including its commitment to social impact development in Newark and other emerging urban centers, as well as its development of Newark’s Teachers Village, a national model for transformative urban living and learning. Teachers Village is a mixed-use development comprising 204 workforce-housing units, three schools, an early childhood learning center, and over 60,000 square feet of retail space.

RU-N Chancellor Nancy Cantor said, “We see the creation and development of the Honors Living-Learning Community as the physical embodiment of our aspirations for higher education—not only how we need to get much better at identifying and cultivating true talent in students, but in how faculty and staff both nurture and learn from that talent, and therefore advance and increase the impact of their scholarship and professionalism. This unique living space will catalyze all of that and we could not think of a better partner than Ron Beit, and RBH Group, with whom we clearly share a deep commitment to leveraging Newark’s tremendous assets—first and foremost its people—to continue driving the city’s and region’s revitalization.”

RBH founder and CEO Ron Beit, said, “We are truly excited to have been chosen to help express the vision of Chancellor Cantor and the faculty and students of the Honors Living-Learning Community. The development of the HLLC complements our mission to develop projects in Newark in partnership with a full range of community partners. We are dedicated to creating affirmative social good by developing innovative and sustainable spaces in urban cores.”

Perkins Eastman’s Eric Fang AIA, AICP, LEED AP, Principal-in-Charge of the project, said, “We are thrilled to be able to work with this top-notch team led by RBH and the leadership of Rutgers-Newark to advance the groundbreaking mission of the Honors Living-Learning Community. The HLLC builds on our ongoing work with urban colleges and universities throughout the country to ‘engage the city,’ and our continuing commitment to match pioneering programs like the HLLC with innovative design.”

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said, “The creation of the Honors Living-Learning Community is a holistic approach to the continuing transformation of our downtown in both economic and educational terms. This project will create economic opportunities and prosperity for Newark entrepreneurs through the construction process and the retail stores it creates. It will also provide housing and classroom facilities for more than 400 of our very best undergraduate students, who will use the facilities to tackle major issues that affect our City, state, and nation, and write the plans and agenda by which we will build our future. Here, in the Honors Living-Learning Community, these young men and women will make a shining reality of former Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson’s epochal statement: ‘Wherever America’s cities are going, Newark will get there first!'”

The leaders of the HLLC include Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Shirley M. Collado, Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences Sherri-Ann Butterfield and HLLC Associate Dean Marta Esquilin.