North Avenue is at the heart of the downtown and is the first perception of Plainfield that many visitors see. The architecture and history of the district, convenience of the train station and new lofts and apartments constructed nearby suggests a new renaissance for this district. Unfortunately, not many people know the area is a historic district at all since presently no signs have been posted.
We are pleased to announce that Downtown Plainfield Alliance has received full funding of the first of three phases of street signs and markers for the area that will prominently display that the area is indeed historic. The signs will bring awareness to the community and visitors that the street and surrounding blocks on Watchung and Park Avenues are historic and will celebrate the district by making it a destination.
Our signage project will give the district its first splash of local marketing and will support traditional urban planning placemaking principles. Placemaking involves the art of changing blighted and otherwise undesirable locations in a designated area into a hip, fun and community-focused location in order to eliminate those effects. By combining new historic district signage, a pedestrian mall, new streetscape and “pocket park” on the corner of North Avenue and Gavett Place, the city will be creating an engaging atmosphere on North Avenue that directly correlates with placemaking and Main Street principles.
Phase I will consist of (14) fourteen new street signs on (7) seven existing non-decorative poles at the following intersections:
- North Avenue and Park Avenue
- North Avenue and Gavett Place
- North Avenue and Watchung Avenue
- E. 2nd Street and Park Avenue
- E. 2nd Street and Gavett Place
- E. 2nd Street and Watchung Avenue
- E. 3rd Street and Watchung Avenue
We were faced with a difficult choice regarding the mounting poles. Why would DPA decide to mount street blade signs on non-decorative poles? Because of the timing of the city’s proposed North Avenue pedestrian mall, we did not want to spend grant money irresponsibly by ordering decorative (read: expensive) poles that need to be mounted just to be removed while the pending pedestrian mall is installed. We decided to utilize the existing street sign poles at the corners and mount the new historic district signs on those temporarily. Phase II will take place after the pedestrian mall is complete and will consist of decorative posts:
- Decorative poles to replace non-decorative posts.
- Wayfinding signage (historic informational signs for significant buildings in the district, directional signs for businesses on the pedestrian mall).
- Decorative hanging post signs with “North Avenue Historic District"
We thank tremendously the City of Plainfield Cultural and Heritage Commission for their commitment to the project and continued philanthropy in Plainfield.
Our next step is to introduce the signs to the Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning Board for their approval, which we expect to do this winter.
Find out more information on Downtown Plainfield Alliance at www.downtownplainfield.com. Follow us on Instagram (@downtownplainfieldalliance) and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/downtownplainfieldalliance.
Downtown Plainfield Alliance (DPA) is a nonpolitical, nonprofit grassroots group that supports the improvement of Downtown Plainfield through beautification, volunteerism, economic development, marketing, community development, and activism. This column dives into the in's-and-out's of Downtown Plainfield’s revitalization. Learn more about Downtown Plainfield Alliance at www.downtownplainfield.com.
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