Business & Finance

Fanwood Downtown Redevelopment Update at Special Meeting of Borough Council

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View of Fanwood Crossing from train station. Credits: John Mooney
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"Main Street-style downtowns... are much more than shopping and eating; they provide a sense of community and pride of place," says Liz Jeffery, Fanwood's redevelopment consultant. Credits: John Mooney
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Joli Visage has opened in Fanwood. Credits: John Mooney
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Liz Jeffery updates the Fanwood Council on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Credits: John Mooney
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The A&P building when it closed in 2015. Credits: John Mooney
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Plans are unclear for the property where the A&P building once stood. Credits: John Mooney
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New facade of the Ginger Sushi building on South Ave. in Fanwood Credits: John Mooney
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FANWOOD, NJ -- At a special Tuesday meeting of the Fanwood Borough Council, the Borough's redevelopment consultant Liz Jeffery updated the governing body on progress in the downtown area.

Downtown Redevelopment Area

Station Square (LaGrande Ave.) -- The project entails 35 units total: 28 market rate rental units (14 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom units) and 7 affordable units (2 one-bedroom and 5 two-bedroom units). Preliminary site work will begin in March. The Station Square Redevelopment Agreement has been signed and the PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) will be finalized shortly.

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Additionally, at Tuesday's meeting, the council introduced an Ordinance 17-02-R that authorizes the borough to execute a financial agreement with Station Square developers, Fanwood Urban Renewal LLC.

Fanwood Crossing (250 South Ave.) -- Fanwood Pharmacy, Kessler Rehabilitation Center and Joli Visage are open. Fanwood Vision Center has recently signed a lease. Meanwhile, Elite Properties continues to seek retail tenants for the vacant retail space on South Avenue.

Ponzio Tract (Second St.) -- Jobar Realty Company, Inc. has received site plan approval for a three-unit residential building with 2,900 sq. ft. of commercial space on the first floor. The project has satisfied Fanwood Planning Board conditions and is in review for building permits, which should be in place this month. Construction is anticipated in the spring.

The Fanwood Grille (34 South Martine Ave.) -- The Fanwood Grille, to be located at the site of the Fanwood Corner Store, is expected to open in early March.

Frank's Auto Body (South Martine Ave.) -- Frank's Auto Boy has received site plan approval for a one-story addition for the creation of a new third bay for auto repair. The site work includes redesign of the parking area and the elimination of the two driveways closest to the corner of Martine and La Grande Ave. The site plan has experienced a delay with County officials. However, approval is expected soon, and construction plans should be filed in the next few months.

Frank's will provide an easement to the Borough at the rear of the property to allow for completion and enhancement of a pedestrian walkway from La Grande to the Fanwood Plaza.

Fanwood Plaza -- The Borough has begun to advance the planned expansion of the plaza area next to outside of Mara's Cafe. This project will essentially create one long public plaza along the back of the stores on the west side of South Martine Ave. Fanwood has approved a contract with Najarian Associates to design, bid, and oversee the project. The project will begin this spring.

A&P -- Having exhausted efforts to re-lease the former A&P building to a supermarket, the property owners have demolished the site and are now developing alternative plans using commercial corridor as their guide. They are looking at residential development, and the borough has strongly expressed its desire for mixed use at the location.

"It's private property. There is no concept plan. they will undoubtedly be doing residential and there will be a COAH component (15% of the rentals must be affordable)," said Liz Jeffery. "The Borough advised that it would like to see some kind of retail."

"We have been in close contact with the owners," Mayor Colleen Mahr said. "Nothing has been formalized."

Lightbridge Academy -- The childcare center to be located at the former Sun Tavern building, has submitted its plan. It is actively under review and multi-faceted.

Young's Paint - The building is up for sale, however no buyer has purchased the property.

Business Retention and Attraction

Under the guidance of Liz Jeffery, the Borough's strategic plan to improve the success of current businesses and spur growth is underway. The plan includes better marketing, p.r. and communication. Initiatives include creation of a new Downtown logo and incorporating more business focus in town communications, including a Downtown tab on the town website and more attention in The Fanwoodian newsletter.

Fanwood has become part of the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce (GWACC), which has established a Fanwood Business Committee to work on initiative in the borough, including a 2017 speaker series. The first of these events -- Knockout Networking with Michael Goldberg -- was held at The Chelsea on Jan. 25

GWACC plans to sponsor two upcoming events: Ladies Night in June and a Food Truck Festival, which will require special permits from the Borough of Fanwood.

Upcoming Events

  • Irish Festival (March 11 and 12), hosted by Sheelen's Crossing at the south side train station parking lot.
  • Rock'n Autism (April 2017)
  • Ladies Night (June 2017)
  • Summer Fan Jam in La Grande Park  Food Truck Festival (July 9)
  • Pet Fair (TBD) 

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