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Communities along the Inner Morris and Essex Line Launch a New Coalition

Credits: John Henry - SOTI

EAST ORANGE, NJ -Together North Jersey announced the release of the final report for the “Urban Essex Coalition for Smart Growth” Local Demonstration Project.  The “Urban Essex” project was one of the first of 18 local demonstration projects launched by Together North Jersey and encompassed the municipalities of East Orange, Orange and Newark. The intent of the project was to bring together neighboring communities to develop a strategic planning initiative along the shared Inner Morris and Essex Rail Line (Inner M&E) Corridors.

Aside from being oriented along the same transportation corridor, the area also shares many assets and opportunities, such as large educational and medical centers such as NJIT, Rutgers, UMDNJ, and East Orange Hospital and a focus on the arts. There is also the benefit of having walkable neighborhoods and convenient transit connections to the Manhattan, Newark and Hoboken employment markets.

The project culminated in the summer of 2013 with the establishment of a new corridor-wide coalition dedicated to working with the corridor’s three municipalities to advance equitable development centered on transit. The coalition has been named the Urban Essex Coalition for Smart Growth.

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"Those of us who launched the Urban Essex Smart Growth Coalition hope to be able to shape the development future around the five stations from Broad Street Newark through to the Valley Arts District of Orange and create a model  Smart Growth corridor with a wide range of housing choices, vital commercial districts and vibrant public spaces,” said Patrick Morrissy of HANDS, Inc. "We are all grateful for the opportunity Together North Jersey has brought to our community and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to see this vision come to life.”

The plan succeeded in building consensus around five key priorities:

1. Bringing station area development around the Brick Church Station and Orange Station

2. Transforming the Freeway Drive / Route 280 corridor into a “uniter” rather than a divider that separates the communities

3. Leveraging the emerging arts and manufacturing industries in the Valley Arts District

4. Enhancing connections to regional employment destinations to improve access to jobs and spur economic growth

5. Capitalizing on the substantial price discount for housing and robust transit access within the Corridor compared to similar regional communities to promote new residential development.

The plan was developed by a multidisciplinary team led by EE&K a Perkins Eastman Company, Greater Newark LISC, The Louis Berger Group and Real Estate Solutions Group.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded through this link: www.togethernorthjersey.com/UECSG

Together North Jersey membership is open to any public jurisdiction, agency or authority; non-governmental organization; neighborhood association; community and faith-based organization; private business or company; or educational institution located in the region or serving the region. Funding support for Together North Jersey is provided through a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development received by Rutgers University in January 2012.

The LDP Program provides technical assistance to local partners throughout the region to undertake strategic planning activities promoting sustainable, livable, and transit-oriented development, and advance the broader goals of Together North Jersey. Partnerships of local municipalities, counties, nongovernmental organizations, community development corporations and other interested parties have applied to participate in the LDP Program through a competitive selection process.

The Edward J. Bloustein School for Planning and Policy and several other agencies and organizations around the region, provide the organizational capacity and expertise necessary to execute day-to-day the work of Together North Jersey.

Technical assistance for individual LDPs is provided by one of NJ TRANSIT’s three existing “on-call” Transit Friendly Planning, Land Use and Development Task Order Consultant Teams. These Teams are led by EE&K a Perkins Eastman company, Looney Ricks Kiss, and Regional Plan Association.

For more information on Together North Jersey or the Local Demonstration Project Program, contact Miriam Salerno at miriam.salerno@ejb.rutgers.edu or visit www.togethernorthjersey.com.

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