I went to an event hosted by the Devils last night at the Rock which was a presentation and public comment session regarding the park that will replace the parking lots in front of the arena. The speakers included representatives from several city entities managing the project, the design team and someone from the team's corporate office.
There was a bunch of information but to keep it short, after a decade of delays this thing is finally happening. First, the park is now called Mulberry Commons and construction is divided into phases. Phase I is from Mulberry Street to the bridge over McCarter/Route 21, Phase IIA is renovating Peter Francisco Park across from Penn Station in the Ironbound, and Phase IIB is the bridge and platform over the railroad tracks connecting the two. Phase I is happening now; the rest later.
The total project cost is estimated at $35m; the city recently appropriated $10m to get it going. The city is apparently selling Championship Plaza to the Devils for $5m which seems to be their contribution. The master redevelopers of the surrounding parcels, Edison Parking and J&L, are also kicking in along with the usual suspects (Prudential and Panasonic were mentioned by name). Edison is moving forward with converting the old warehouse into a mixed use commercial building. Residential developments are expected on the other 3 parcels flanking the park. As I've previously mentioned, and was confirmed at the event, the redevelopment agreements are still in force and the redevelopers essentially forfeit their surrounding properties (pretty much are compelled to sell) if they do not develop them once the park is complete.
TL: DR version
Phase I with potential programming options
"Arena Yard" immediately across Mulberry Street from arena
View from the terraces leading up to the McCarter highway bridge
The rail yard theme by the arena is a nod to the tracks that once ran through the park approaching the CRRNJ terminal that was where the arena stands. An attendee mentioned that Newark's Chinatown and fish market were also in that area and should be commemorated. Columbia Street will be restored and run through the park as shown above. The part east from Columbia Street towards McCarter climbs a 10-15 foot grade via terraces to reach the McCarter highway bridge.
Construction is expected to start late spring 2017 on Phase I; "late" was emphasized with a bit of self awareness. Among other things mentioned were arena events in the yard area, an ice rink in the winter, and movie screenings on the front of the arena. I spoke to the executive director of Newark Arts afterwards and like others there, he was very enthusiastic about the Devils' commitment to Newark.