SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- Business owners on Irvington Avenue say they would welcome the street’s redevelopment.

Overall they are excited that the village has decided to make the corridor a priority moving forward, Trustee Sheena Collum said.

“I love that,” said Fifi Alwini, owner of University Sub Shop. “It could be nice.”

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Business is slow on the avenue, so this could help open new businesses instead of seeing them close, Alwini said.

The village hopes to develop the corridor into more of a “neighborhood retail district,” Collum said. To guide that effort, the Board of Trustees is establishing an Irvington Avenue Corridor Advisory Committee.

The committee will study the area and assess what streetscaping and beautification opportunities there are as well as develop zoning to preserve existing buildings, according to the village’s website.

It will also work alongside Seton Hall University, the university’s Market Research Center and other municipalities that share the corridor including Maplewood Township and the City of Newark, the website said.

“The residents and business community are energetic, the University has indicated a desire to work with the town and the Board of Trustees is committed to putting forth resources to help transform this area,” Collum said. “All the puzzle pieces are there; now it's just about making them fit together.”

Collum said that Irvington Avenue is an important project because of its incredible resources that are underutilized. Because of its location, there’s a “great opportunity to look at development and anchors that attract the Seton Hall community to shop, dine and support the small business community and add to the overall vibrancy of this corridor,” Collum said.  

“We have a lot of services and (the students) can use the services,” said Nick Sheth, owner of University News Stop.

The businesses on Irvington Avenue are convenient for the students who live in and around the university, as well as for the residents, Sheth said.

Doug Zacker, a South Orange resident, said that assuming the project is successful, it will add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and will help fulfill South Orange’s potential as a diverse college town.

“I love college towns, so anything that makes South Orange, or at least this end of South Orange, feel more like a college town is great,” Zacker said.

People can apply to be on the committee here:  http://southorange.org/volunteerApply/

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.