BERNARDSVILLE, NJ -- The Borough Council heard the details from three different development groups regarding the Quimby Village revitalization plan during a lengthy public meeting Aug. 12.

Phil Abramson, the chief executive officer of Topology--the firm that assisted the borough in writing the initial Request for Proposals (RFPs) late in 2018--gave a presentation summing up the submissions received from three different real estate development groups: AST Development Corp. of Lavallette, Advance Realty Investors of Bedminster, and a collaboration between Melillo Equities of Bedminster and Claremont of Far Hills.

“We’re thrilled to say that there were three terrific proposals for ...Quimby Village,” Bernardsville Mayor Mary Jane Canose said. “Each of the proposals provides most, if not all, of the amenities that we requested in the RFPs, including park, plaza, restaurants and extra parking for the town.”

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The RFP had stated that the projected Quimby Village would "become part of Bernardsville's identity and reinforce the unique downtown district as the crown jewel of the community."

The focal point of the redevelopment of the downtown area would include transforming Quimby Lane off of Mine Brook Road into an all-encompassing plaza that would be more inviting to pedestrians and shoppers.

“This was designated as one of the areas for the borough to meet its affordable housing obligation,” Abramson said. “But it also could be a real opportunity. Empty storefronts and affordable housing are a concern.”

"I've seen it go up and down over the years," said one longtime downtown business owner of the number of vacant retail spaces in the center of the borough, "but I've never seen it this bad."

Abramson pointed out the results of a survey of several thousand Bernardsville residents which showed that 98 percent of respondents considered the downtown area “extremely or very important.”

Abramson highlighted an area bordered by Olcott Square, Mill Street, Quimby Lane and Mine Brook Road, saying that the perimeter of this section is “flanked by these really great buildings (including the Bernards Inn), but the inside (of this area) is somewhat hollow, like a donut.” One of the missions of the redevelopment project, he said, was to “fill in” the inside of “the donut” with elements that will enhance the value and energize the center of town, while preserving what is already in place along Mine Brook and Olcott Square at the outskirts of the squared off area in question.

The three development proposals submitted are:

Advance Realty:

  • 100 residential units
  • Underground parking
  • 6,000 square feet of retail and restaurants
  • All of the affordable housing they would be obligated to construct on site


AST Development:

  • 111 residential units
  • 328 parking spaces
  • 3,400 square feet of new retail
  • All affordable housing units on site


Melillo/Claremont:

  • 96 residential units
  • 109 underground parking spaces
  • No new net retail (instead, replacing or repositioning existing retail in Olcott Square)
  • All affordable housing units on site
  • Some open spaces on the north and west sides of the designated area


All of the proposals, Abramson said, are “within a pretty tight tolerance of one another.”

“Our findings show that people are interested in being here,” Abramson said. “I think there was, maybe, a little doubt about that (before). These are rare opportunities for developers to be in these towns.”

The consultant conceded that retail and restaurant usage will be “the most challenging aspects.”

“If we build apartments, people will come,” Abramson said. “Getting retail in this era of the Amazons of the world, and restaurants ...it’s a place that will have to become a destination.”