Opting into a Life Downtown

Business owners investing in Newark full-time.

On a typical morning, Michael Suh gets up, takes a shower and goes to work—down one flight of stairs to his restaurant, Mizu Sushi.

“Living over the store is ideal for me because I spend so much time at the business,” he says. “Living downtown also is fun. There’s lots of energy and plenty of great bars, restaurants and shops.”

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Increasingly, people are opting to live in downtown Newark, attracted by its pedestrian-friendly vibe and convenient access to amenities and services.

Most recent development downtown is mixed-use, consistent with more traditional urban design, with commercial space on the first floor and apartments above. 

Added to the mix are pockets of owner-occupied homes along Center, New and Linden streets, as well as owner-occupied and affordable-rent housing in George Read Village, east of Tyre Avenue.

Vance Funk lives in The Washington House, a complex of owner-occupied condominiums on the former site of the Stone Balloon, the iconic downtown watering hole. The former mayor now walks to work at his law practice.

“I tell everyone I am living in paradise,” he says. “Living downtown is wonderful.”

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Suh lived in another apartment over a business a few blocks away, which gave the restaurateur a renewed taste for urban life.

“I had lived near the art museum in Philadelphia and thoroughly enjoyed it,” he says. “City life in Newark is smaller but it still has great energy.”

When a place opened up above Mizu Sushi, Suh leapt on it. “I have a dog and it’s super to be able to dash upstairs and take the dog out to play,” he says.

Many of his neighbors are students and he appreciates the diversity of living in an urban setting. “If you are going to live downtown you accept that there will a lot of people coming and going and a little more noise than there is in the suburbs,” he says. “Now, it feels natural.”

Funk enjoys the convenience of walking to work, restaurants and shops. He buys fresh corn at the farmers market at Market East Plaza after church. The cordial buzz among neighbors reminds him of the town in the Midwest where he grew up.

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Since he and his wife moved downtown, Funk is saving quite a bit on gasoline.

“I used to fill the tank at least once a week,” he says. “Now it’s once a month—or less.”  

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