NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The Knight has obediently stood sentinel in front of The Yard @ Rutgers, although social distancing measures in response to COVID-19 may have left him a little lonely over the past several months.
The iconic figure facing College Avenue is about to get a lot more company.
The popular Sunday Morning Yoga program returns this morning from 9-10 a.m.
Family Yoga Night will be returning starting Wednesday and Family Movie Night will be back on Friday.
The free programs are at the essence of what the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) had in mind when it created this sprawling, grassy space in the middle of apartments for Rutgers students and restaurants for anyone hungry for pizza, subs and other fast fare.
DEVCO Vice President Merissa Buczny said the space was intended to bring the Rutgers community and the New Brunswick community together. After checking with Rutgers about its social distancing guidelines, she said DEVCO is excited to “re-activate” The Yard.
“We are not your typical developer,” she said. “If you look at the Heldrich (Hotel), if you look at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, those are developments that we did because they were the right thing to do and they contributed to the community in ways that were more than just for the money, more than just for the typical developer fee or return on investment.
“The return on investment is seeing downtown New Brunswick being vibrant and being vital and having all of the amenities that a city should have. And that's why we're here.”
It didn’t take long after opening in 2016 at the corner of Easton and Hamilton Street for The Yard @ Rutgers to rejuvenate College Avenue.
For those who have not yet had the chance to visit, there are nine retailers there, including Jersey Mike’s Subs, HoneyGrow and Elevation Burger. There’s also the aptly named convenience store, At Your Doorstep.
Another part of The Yard is a hardscape with tables and chairs, and the giant high-definition video screen is the perfect place to watch the Rutgers football team – that is, when its season isn’t canceled in response to COVID-19.
There’s even a Rutgers post office in The Yard.
“Amenities like The Yard and the retail spaces that are there, the various food offerings that are there, they really hit on a lot of different needs and wants,” Buczny said. “I think we've been able to really keep that place safe and a place that is desirable to go to. I think that's important when you're developing something like The Yard. I mean, the Sojourner Truth apartments are one of the most desired dorms on Rutgers campus. I think The Yard being downstairs has a lot to do with it.”
The Sojourner Truth apartments towering over the grassy courtyard have become Rutgers’ most sought after, on-campus housing option, with up to four-bedroom units and amenities such as lounges, study areas and free Wi-Fi.
But if amenities are important to DEVCO, so is giving back.
Buczny said during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the hospital beds at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Peter’s University Hospital began to fill up, DEVCO did what it could.
Through The Yard, the performing arts center and the Heldrich, DEVCO partnered with area restaurants to deliver meals to the doctors, nurses and front line heroes.
After six months of social distancing, being able to re-activate The Yard for social-bonding events such as Sunday Morning Yoga feels gratifying for Buczny.
Just remember to bring your mat and RSVP on DEVCO’s Facebook page.