BERNARDSVILLE, NJ -- Despite the state-mandated temporary closure of many businesses in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), planning is proceeding for the eventual revitalization of the Bernardsville downtown area, according to Mayor Mary Jane Canose.
"Our redevelopment project is still moving ahead," Canose said earlier this week. "Our planner is still working on writing the plan for Quimby Village and what was formerly the Audi dealership."
Topology, a Newark-based planning and real estate consulting firm, is assisting the borough in reviewing 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.
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.
"The paperwork is proceeding for standards we're looking for regarding setbacks, facades, and signage," Canose said. "This gives parameters to the developer for what we want (the downtown) to look like.
"Whether we will have anyone who wants to invest when this is all done is another story."
All non-essential businesses in the borough are closed indefinitely by decree of Gov. Phil Murphy while the nation remains under a state of emergency due to the spread of the virus.
"Most of the restaurants are doing takeout. The Bagel Bin only one that closed, and that was just this week," Canose said. "The liquor stores are doing very well, and the curbside takeout works well. You pull up and pre-order. Some of them still seem to be doing as much business now as they normally would."
As of Wednesday, there were six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bernardsville, according to Somerset County.
"We have borough employees working from home," the mayor said. "we are still paying bills and doing what we have to do. Our clerk is in the office."
Canose lamented that possibility that a prolonged shutdown would have not only an economic impact, but a social one, as well.
"The kids are upset missing those senior year activities--proms, graduations, and I know people are canceling weddings," she said.