Newark’s Downtown Renaissance Continues as Nike Newark Opens Its Doors

October 1 was a good day for downtown Newark. It was the day Nike opened its factory store in a part of downtown that for a generation was the image of commercial disinvestment.

The opening, coupled with this week's ribbon-cutting for the neighboring Prudential tower and the phenomenal success of the nearby Starbucks, is the manifestation of years of planning - and it all seems to be coming together for a remarkable downtown renaissance.

Virtually overnight, the block that was haunted by the S. Klein building has transformed into hub of pedestrian and retail activity.

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Mayor Ras Baraka's becoming a pro at cutting ribbons. The Nike store on Broad Street was his second this week on Broad Street alone. 

"You open a new store once. You never get to open it again," said Mark Csintyan, Retail District Manager for New Jersey, Nike, Inc., as he rallied dozens of employees minutes before throngs of shoppers entered the store for the first time.

"This is about connecting with our community in a unique and special way, and you only get to do that first this one time. We're a special store, this is a special organization, and you're a special team," he said.

Csintyan's call to make the most of the moment was not lost on Nike staff, whose energy filled the store by way of music, call-and-response ("Nike Newark! We're about to make history!") and a celebration of city culture.

Among the community groups on hand was FloydLittle's Double Dutch Inc., a Newark-based youth enrichment organization that works with school districts to establish double dutch clubs, providing youth support and tracking academic progress.

"There is definitely a feeling of excitement here and we're thrilled to be a part of it," said Shaquannah Floyd, who founded FloydLittle in 2006 with her business partner and long-time friend Laila Little.

Floyd and Little, both Newark natives, have found fame recently by way of Jump!, a Lifetime Network program that chronicles the journey of their team. "Seeing Newark's downtown come back in the way that we always knew it would is gratifying to say the least," said Little, before shaking hands with a passer-by who identified herself as a fan of the show.

"It's a different downtown; a better downtown," she said.

Nike, along with myriad other corporate and retail counterparts, are reclaiming a business district that had once been the region's premier commercial hub.

And now, they're about to make history.

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