Transit Village Update


  September 2009
Volume 5, Number 2

NJDOT Designates City of Orange as New Transit Village

The NJ Department of Transportation in June designated the City of Orange and the area around its NJ TRANSIT Orange Station as the state’s 20th Transit Village. The city hopes to spark revitalization by focusing its attention and investment toward redeveloping this long-neglected train station, one of two located in Orange. The historic 19th century Orange Station and the Tony Galento Plaza to its east will be the focus of initial improvements. As part of the transit village designation, the city received $100,000 from the state which will be used for lighting and landscaping around the station. More than 1,100 riders board at the Orange station each weekday. Express service to New York Penn Station can take as little as 28 minutes. The 20-acre redevelopment area is also served by a half-dozen major NJ TRANSIT bus lines and a pair of private bus carriers. Long term plans call for the conversion of the Orange Memorial Hospital into mixed-income residences and the demolition and redevelopment of the Walter G. Alexander public housing site.

Morristown’s Transit Village: Full Steam Ahead

Construction Over and Around the Recently
Completed Morristown Parking Deck

In spite of the bleak economy, Morristown’s new transit village is coming alive. About a third of the 217 one- and two-bedroom apartments in the five-story Highlands at Morristown Station development have recently been put on the market. The project sits directly adjacent to the town’s rail station, where more than 2,200 riders board trains each weekday for direct service to Newark and New York City. The station is also served by several local bus lines (MC1, MC2 and MC10) which connect Morristown with suburban employment centers in Parsippany-Troy Hills, as well as the County College of Morris. Morristown is one of five NJ TRANSIT stations outfitted with Zipcars, providing additional options to those arriving at the station.

The developers of Morristown's $75 million village—Roseland Property Company and Woodmont Properties—say that despite the economy, the project is drawing interest from people who want to live near the train station and Morristown's downtown area. One-bedroom apartments, which average about 740 square feet, start at $1,700 a month, while two-bedroom units of about 1,080 square feet start at $2,300. The municipality expects the facility to become a substantial tax ratable, bringing in $200,000 in tax revenues to the town.

Courtesy of Roseland Property Company

In addition to apartments, the project includes 8,000 square feet of retail space. The developers are currently negotiating with retailers to fill the commercial spaces at the transit village as well as the other major redevelopment project in town, the former Epstein’s Department Store. See our December 2008 issue for more information.

The development’s retail space wraps around the much-anticipated, newly opened Morristown Parking Deck. The parking facility has 724 spaces, 415 of which are permanently designated NJ TRANSIT commuter parking spaces. The deck is located immediately adjacent to the station train platform and provides weather-protected pedestrian access to the station building. Parking deck rates are an affordable $6 per day or $100 per month.

Historic Rutherford Station Undergoes Restoration

Located in one of the first five transit village communities designated in 1999, the Rutherford Station is undergoing a two-year restoration of the historic station’s original exterior and improvements to its interior.  Located on NJ TRANSIT’s Bergen County Line, the station is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The $1.4 million station exterior renovation project, completed in June of this year, restored masonry along with the copper-clad window enclosures, and repaired or replaced window sills, doors, columns, and soffits. Additional work included thorough cleaning of the station façade, composed of brick, sandstone, limestone and bluestone. Work on the interior began this May. Funded by the federal government, the $9 million refurbishment includes restoration of the main station building’s ceiling and floors, windows, doors, wood benches, plaster surfaces, and wood frames and moldings, as well as the replacement of exterior windows and doors in the taxi stand building.

Rutherford Station was constructed in 1898 and serves more than a thousand riders each weekday, making it the third busiest station on the Bergen County and Main lines. Travel from Rutherford Station to New York Penn Station takes about 30 minutes with a transfer at Secaucus Junction. Rutherford operates a community shuttle service during commute times, providing access to the station for those who live too far to walk. Between the morning and evening rush, the borough provides a free downtown bus service to all residents. In addition, the station serves as access to local businesses. The borough, in partnership with the Meadowlink Commuter Services, operates a jitney service connecting commuters arriving by train to two work sites, the Federal Reserve Bank in East Rutherford and the Meadowlands Office Complex. The station also is a stop along two well-utilized bus routes. The #76 bus connects Hackensack with Newark and carried more than 1.38 million riders in FY2008. The #190 bus links Paterson with the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York and had more than 3.18 million riders in FY2008, a rise of 3.4 percent over the previous year.

New Buildings Rise … and to Rise in New Brunswick

New Brunswick has been redeveloping its rail station area in recent years by strengthening local educational, cultural, health care and residential uses. A series of projects either completed, under construction or newly started are continuing this strategy.

College of Nursing Building in New Brunswick

credit: Carl Blesch
  • Completed this spring, the city’s first dedicated home for the Rutgers School of Nursing now sits at 110 Paterson Street, less than a quarter mile from the NJ TRANSIT rail station. The new 18,000-square foot, 3-story building houses classrooms, laboratory and examination rooms, as well as faculty offices and a lecture hall.
  • Adjacent to the School of Nursing, work continues on the Rutgers Institute for Health Sciences. When completed next summer, this 58,000-square foot facility will be home to the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, as well as the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Clinic. Together with the School of Nursing, this new facility will form the Rutgers Health Sciences Center, and will extend New Brunswick’s downtown health care district, already home to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the Child Health Institute of New Jersey.
  • Also of note is the Gateway Transit Village where groundbreaking ceremonies were held June 10. This 16-story mixed use building will house the Rutgers University Bookstore and University Press, serve as a welcome center for visitors to Rutgers and provide 200 new residences and 656 parking spaces. The development is located immediately north of the station and will be directly connected to the westbound platform. The New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) is developing the property; scheduled completion is September 2011. See the July 2008 issue of the newsletter for additional information.
  • Complementing the Gateway project, NJ TRANSIT is pursuing several improvements at the New Brunswick rail station, most notably a new elevator on the eastbound (to Newark/New York) side of the station that will connect customers between the ground, first floor, and platform levels of the station.

New Mixed-Use Project to Rise in Metuchen

Demolition and clearance, July 2009

Work has finally begun on the redevelopment of a former supermarket site in Metuchen. In July, demolition and clearing began on the 5.85-acre site, located at the corner of Lake and Middlesex avenues about 0.4 miles from the borough’s busy rail station. This effort will make way for The District at Metuchen, a four-building retail and residential complex. The redevelopment will require the demolition of six houses and the Boro Ace Hardware, which will be relocated to one of the new buildings.

Some 4,000 boardings per weekday occur at the Metuchen station, making it the 7th busiest outlying station in the NJ TRANSIT rail system. Metuchen passengers can take one of more than 50 trains daily on NJ TRANSIT’s Northeast Corridor to Newark Penn Station or New York Penn Station and 40 trains daily to Trenton. Average travel time to midtown Manhattan is 52 minutes; express travel takes as little as 40 minutes. Average travel time to Trenton is 45 minutes.

Redevelopment of the site has been a subject of discussion for several years. Early plans for this project called for first floor retail with 121 one-, two- and three-bedroom units above, though changes are likely. These plans also included office space that has since been dropped in favor of several live-work units. The developer, Renaissance Properties, Inc. of Old Bridge, is negotiating with the borough to increase the number of units to 150 overall, without changing the project’s footprint by reducing the size of the largest units. The largest of the four buildings will house a 15,600 square-foot grocery store and will wrap structured parking. The parking garage will be accessible from a ground level entrance and interior corridors on each floor. In addition, a connecting bridge will link the garage to a new building housing the live-work units and the relocated Ace Hardware store. In total, the site will incorporate parking for 501 vehicles, including on-street parking and surface parking to be located behind the new buildings.  Improvements are to be made to the intersection of Lake and Middlesex avenues, as well as to Central Avenue, which bisects the site.

click to enlarge

Site Plan for The Distict at Metuchen
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