Transit Village Update


July 2007
Volume 3, Number 2
Collingswood's Plans for Development Near Station

On April 24, 2007, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and its subsidiary, Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO), announced a master plan for the seven stations in southern New Jersey served by the PATCO High Speed Line. The plan, completed by the Philadelphia planning firm Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) in 2006, assessed the feasibility of transit-oriented development along the rail line. While the final report has not yet been approved by the DRPA, an executive summary of the report has been released to the public. The executive summary finds that while all of the PATCO stations are potential TOD sites, financial constraints, including replacement of existing commuter parking, would currently limit redevelopment to Collingswood and Haddonfield. At the other stations, the financial return to a potential redeveloper does not support the cost of structured parking. See the April 2007 issue for more about parking and TOD.

Since its 2003 designation as a New Jersey Transit Village, Collingswood has seen an impressive amount of development. Situated on the PATCO High Speed Line which provides an easy commute to Philadelphia, the Camden County community has been working to make the most of its enviable assets–good transit access, a walkable downtown, capacity in its schools and dedicated public and private leadership. See the May 2006 issue of this newsletter for more information about Colllingswood’s TOD initiatives.  Mayor James Maley and the borough’s council have earned considerable goodwill from residents through outreach and public meetings and have demonstrated that if residents want local businesses to survive and the borough to maintain public services, the community must welcome new residents.

Collingswood Conceptual Illustrative Site Plan
Courtesy of PATCO

The focus of development in Collingswood would be the North Atlantic Avenue area, the site of several surface parking lots serving the station. The borough is considering residential and commercial development as well as a parking garage to replace and augment existing parking. PATCO would like to double the amount of parking available at the station as the lot is usually full by 7 a.m. each day. New parking would serve commuters, residents of the new development and nearby retail. A total of 2,500 spaces is being considered.

Community involvement continues to be a hallmark of TOD in Collingswood. Using a $20,000 grant from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the borough is holding planning charrettes and information sessions where residents participate in the process of converting the conceptual plan into reality. On May 2, residents joined ULI Senior Resident Fellow Robert Dunphy and Nando Micale, a senior associate at WRT, at a forum on the principles and benefits of TOD. On May 23, John Beckman, a WRT principal, led a group discussion that focused on traffic flow, building height, and density issues as they pertain to Collingswood. Two nearby structures, the borough’s water tower and the Collingswood Arms, a senior residence, are more than 10 stories, and these may provide a precedent for taller structures in this station area plans

Recent TOD achievements include the first closings on residential condominiums in the LumberYard, a mixed-use development located a few blocks from the PATCO station. The project’s retail component also has attracted interest with the sale of 12 street-level stores. New businesses include All Fired Up (pottery painting), Aenigma (jewelry and accessories), and a full-service salon. Two eateries have recently sought approval to open in the new structure.

Rahway Redevelopment Agency Moves Forward with Plan to Move City Hall, Develop Town Center

As was first noted in the May 2006 issue of this newsletter, Rahway has been working hard in its TOD efforts. Mayor James Kennedy and the city’s redevelopment agency have recently taken another step toward transforming Rahway into a destination location similar in feel to Hoboken, using the train station, a junction for NJ TRANSIT’s Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line services, as a hub for activity that supports its central business district.

Rahway Town Square
Courtesy of Hillier Associates

They have launched one of the city’s most ambitious TOD projects, Rahway Town Center, which calls for 150,000-square feet of retail, 305 housing units and a 102-room hotel. This project will relocate City Hall to the Rahway Public Library, constructed in 2004 within the redevelopment site, and make way for an open plaza surrounded by newly built shops and stores. In March, the Rahway Redevelopment Agency named Diversified Communities LLC of Parsippany as the redeveloper. The project has stirred opposition among some residents who feel any redevelopment plan should incorporate the current City Hall, which was built in the early 1980’s. The mayor believes that current location of City Hall, at the northwest corner of city plaza property, would cut off the new development from the business district, disrupting the sense of continuity and community openness that is a theme of the redevelopment plan. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection has granted a waterfront development permit, necessary for redevelopment given the close proximity to the Rahway River.

Work proceeds, meanwhile, on other TOD projects in Rahway. The 16-story Hotel Indigo, located across from the Rahway station, is nearing completion and is expected to open next spring. In addition, the planning board has approved two other projects. Heartstone Development LLC will soon begin work on Station Place on Campbell Street, between Elm Avenue and West Cherry Street, less than a ¼ mile from the Rahway station. The project will feature townhouses and flats; a total of 80 units. Site preparation is scheduled for next summer. On Elizabeth Avenue at the former Wheatena Cereal site, Matzel and Mumford plan to build 130 townhouses, about ½ mile from the station.


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