Newark, N.J., is hoping the spirit of Valentine's Day will fuel redevelopment in some of the city's blighted neighborhoods.
New Jersey's largest city, which Moody's Investors Service downgraded to Baa1 from A3 last May, is selling 100 municipally-owned vacant lots to couples for $1,000 apiece on Feb. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon.
The initiative, which is part of the city's "Live Newark Program," requires buyers to make a $500 down payment and reside in the property for five years. All sales will be subject to approval from the Municipal Council of Newark.
“We are observing Valentine’s Day with creativity and a commitment to Newark’s couples, by offering them opportunities to achieve their American dream of home ownership,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka in a statement. “At the same time, we are turning vacant lots into homes that strengthen our communities, replacing blight with development. Out-of-the-box steps like these are how we will transform Newark into a city we can all believe in."
New Jersey's Local Finance Board agreed to provide oversight of Newark last October in the midst of the city experiencing increased financial stress. Newark had $574.5 million in debt outstanding when it was last rated by Moody's.