Transit Village Update


November 2006
Volume 2, Number 2
Bound Brook Developer Named

Hurricane Floyd exacted a heavy toll on the Borough of Bound Brook in 1999, damaging much of the downtown, which lies in a natural flood plain of the Raritan River. In the seven years since disaster struck, Bound Brook, a designated Transit Village, has been using state and federal assistance to rebuild its downtown around a transit-oriented focus.

Work continues in Bound Brook on the Green Brook Flood Control Project, a $300 million flood remediation project jointly managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). To date, two levees have been built on the western and eastern sides of the municipality to protect it from flooding from two of the Raritan River’s tributaries, but construction of the most important levee, which would prevent future flooding of the downtown by the Raritan River, has been delayed due to a lack of federal funding. Still, Bound Brook is pressing on.

Bound Brook Roundabout

Bound Brook’s Redevelopment Committee, chaired by retired architect Dick Shive, hopes to capitalize on the borough’s refurbished train station and Transit Village designation to attract new development to its downtown. Already, the committee is facilitating the development of sites lying inside the half-mile radius of the train station. Shive’s primary concern is to get these projects underway, which hinges on receiving DEP approval to proceed before the flood remediation project is completed.

The largest of the projects, in preliminary design by the Philadelphia firm Pennrose Properties, would supplant an existing NJ TRANSIT surface parking lot with 150 housing units, ground floor retail and structured parking for both residents and commuters. A second project at the corner of East Main Street and South Main Street will replace a former municipal garage with a four-story building containing 80 residential units with parking at grade.

Other signs of redevelopment progress include:

  • In 2005, the old Bound Brook rotary at the corner of East Main Street and South Main Street was replaced with a new two-way modern roundabout funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (USEDA) in response to the damage from the flooding.
  • The borough’s historic Brook Theater reopened in September after a costly overhaul to repair damage sustained from Hurricane Floyd and subsequent storms. The center will now host theatrical and musical performances as well as a multitude of other community functions, especially those geared toward children.
  • The borough has designs to revitalize the eastbound side of its train station, served by NJ TRANSIT’s Raritan Valley Line, and has already secured $500,000 for the work. (see Transit-Friendly Development Vol.1 No.2)
Morristown Transit Village —
The Epstein's Department Store Project Begins
old parking deck
Epstein's Parking Deck
After Demolition

The transformation of the Epstein’s Department Store site, a landmark on the historic Morristown Green until competition from regional malls and big box discount stores forced its closure four years ago, began October 12 at a formal groundbreaking ceremony. In its place will rise two seven-story buildings (one with 116 luxury condominiums and another with 132 high-end rental units) with 70,000 square feet of retail space. This highly desirable location along South Street in the Transit Village district and the heart of the downtown shopping area, is just under a half-mile walk to the Morristown train station.  The developers, Woodmont Properties and Roseland Property Company, in partnership with the Morristown Parking Authority, will also replace the old 204-space garage with a new 800-space structured parking facility along with a 20,000 square foot environmentally friendly office building. 

Also included is a 36-unit condominium loft building featuring 1,500 square feet in 2-bedroom houses on DeHart Street. This loft-style building will sit over 6,000 square feet of retail. In addition to these residential units and retail space, nine townhomes will also be constructed on a vacant lot at the corner of Macculloch Avenue and DeHart Street. Each townhouse design will feature architecture that complements the neighborhood.

This is the largest project to date within the Morristown Transit Village district with an estimated investment value of $350 million. In 2006, this project was chosen as the Plan of the Year by Downtown New Jersey and received the New Jersey Planning Officials Achievement in Planning Award.

Other Woodmont/Roseland projects in the Morristown Transit Village district include the previously featured Highlands at Morristown Station, a mixed-use building with 219 rental units, 8,000 square feet of retail space and a 740-space parking garage, to be constructed on the NJ TRANSIT station parking lot. Currently, building permits are being processed and final details for temporary commuter parking are being finalized.

In partnership with Applied Development Companies, Woodmont and Roseland are also redeveloping Vail Mansion (formerly the Morristown City Hall) which includes the creation of 36 new luxury condominium flats. The mansion, just over ¼-mile from the train station, is proposed to contain a public venue (possibly a restaurant) as well as private club facilities for the residents.

South Orange Performing Arts Center Opens
South Orange PAC
South Orange Performing Arts Center

The Township of South Orange Village, one of the five original New Jersey Transit Villages designated in 1999, recently opened a major addition to its downtown — the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC). This 34,840-square foot venue will host a variety of live music, dance and theatrical performances. The complex also features five cinemas and additional meeting spaces. Its location, at the corner of Sloan Street and South Orange Avenue, is at the center of South Orange and just steps from the Village’s train station.

Old Food Store to be Redeveloped

Source: http://www.southorange.org/

Market Vision

The Village’s hope is that the SOPAC will increase patronage to the downtown area and attract more high-quality businesses and restaurants. SOPAC’s construction is part of South Orange’s ongoing effort to revitalize its Central Business District (CBD). Municipal bonds financed most of the $14.3 million project. Seton Hall University contributed $1 million and will use the complex for its theater arts program. The Center will benefit from “shared” parking — a mix of municipal, NJ TRANSIT and commercial lots will provide SOPAC with over 400 parking spaces for its customers.

Another important development in the South Orange CBD is the New Market project, located across the train station along South Orange Avenue and Vose Avenue. Developer Sterling Properties has been renovating the existing structure (a former ShopRite food store) to house a 3,500-square foot Garden of Eden Gourmet Market, with 1,500 square feet of additional retail space at grade level. Up to 12 artist lofts will be constructed on the second and third floors. Along Vose Avenue, the developer is building an additional 80 high-end condominiums, a project to be known as “The Avenue at South Orange.” Residents of these new units will have all the advantages of a well-planned Transit Village: easy walkable access to a wide variety of downtown shopping, restaurants, entertainment and excellent public transportation via NJ TRANSIT’s MidTOWN DIRECT one-seat service to Manhattan.


Cranford’s Downtown Attracting Residents and Shoppers

Cranford Township, a designated New Jersey Transit Village, will soon see a rise in its downtown residential population, a trend that its Downtown Management Corporation (DMC) hopes will continue. Units in the new Cranford Crossing development, built by Westminster Communities, will go on sale this fall. The project will consist of 50 luxury condominium units, 22,000 square feet of retail space and a municipal parking garage. The garage was scheduled to open November 11th and will serve both retail shoppers and commuters, with annual passes available.

The development is situated adjacent to NJ TRANSIT’s Raritan Valley Line train and bus station from which transit service is available to Manhattan, Newark and Jersey City. In 2005, the project was one of four honored with a Smart Growth Award from New Jersey Future as a forward-thinking development that will improve the state’s communities while preserving natural areas. In February, town officials began negotiations with another builder for the Riverside redevelopment project at High and Chestnut Streets (see rendering below) . That project stands to add 100 more residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial and retail space to the downtown area.

DMC Chairman Jonathan Jaffe takes pride in the number of new businesses that have opened in Cranford’s Transit Village district during 2006. From apparel and fine gift shops to ethnic restaurants and ice cream parlors, Jaffe asserts Cranford’s downtown is thriving and ripe for a residential complement to take shape. Kathleen Prunty, downtown director for the DMC, is coordinating a study to determine how partnering with the arts community might further enhance Cranford’s overall attractiveness by providing studios and exhibit spaces for original art. Prunty noted Cranford’s tradition as a haven for artists and is awaiting a planning study conducted by a professor at Rutgers University’s Bloustein School. The DMC and its partner, the Jersey Central Arts Studio, allotted $14,000 for the study. Additional private and corporate grants have helped defray the study’s cost.

Cranford Crossing
Source: Cranford Downtown
Management Corporation

Riverfront Development

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