Up until the groundbreaking earlier this year, the site of the first phase of downtown Newark’s redevelopment had devolved to resemble that classic picture of the hollowed-out post-industrial city: 91% of the land here was covered in surface parking lots. Over the previous half-century, buildings in the city’s historic core had been razed and replaced by parking spaces that were supposed to lure back shoppers and businesses that had decamped for the suburbs and even farther away. But, as everyone now knows, those shoppers and businesses never came back. Developer Ron Beit’s plan to fill all this blank space and jump-start the downtown’s renewal looks, in the renderings, like a fairly standard proposal. He’s envisioning low-rise mixed use buildings, with apartments and restaurants and retail, all of which is supposed to enliven the long-empty neighborhood at all hours of the day. But Beit is anchoring the whole thing around a group seldom associated with economic development (or disposable income, for that matter): This project is intended for teachers. Over the next year, eight new buildings–five of them designed by the renowned architect Richard Meier–will start to rise on three square blocks of the city, at a cost of about $150 million. The development, called Teachers Village, will include affordable housing for teachers, three charter schools in which some of them will teach, a day care center, and retail that will feed off of this badly needed influx of permanent residents and all those families who will have to now travel in and out of the neighborhood every day.