BERNARDSVILLE, NJ -- Borough Mayor Mary Jane Canose last week met with the Downtown Redevelopment Committee to discuss the three proposals they received this month from developers bidding to undertake the project of renovating and updating the Quimby Lane area in the center of town.
"It's very encouraging," Canose told TAPinto Somerset Hills last week. "We talked about how to proceed now that we have these three bids. We are meeting with each of them and with our topology consultant to ask questions and fine-tune the proposals. It is still a work in progress, and each bidder will have the opportunity to resubmit."
Canose said that a summary of all three proposals will be presented at the Aug. 12 Bernardsville Borough Council meeting, but that the council still would not be making a final decision then.
The mayor said that her ideal vision of redesigning the downtown area would include "creating a pedestrian place. Right now, there is not a place there to gather. That's what is missing--a central plaza. We will be adding more housing downtown and more rentals, so that it will be denser."
Canose hopes that the eventual finished product would include more dining establishments.
"I hope we will have more restaurants and cafes," Canose said. "A lot of towns have seen issues with empty storefronts. If the downtown area is more vibrant, it will make these storefronts more attractive to prospective renters. We can't just go and drag a business in there now. Right now, it's not a place people are walking, stopping and sitting on benches."
Canose said that she has heard complaints about parking in the downtown area, "but I have never had trouble getting a spot."
The borough's original request for proposals stated that the projected Quimby Village "will become part of Bernardsville's identity and reinforce the unique downtown district as the crown jewel of the community."
The borough's re-examination of the master plan for redevelopment addresses the promotion of Bernardsville's business district as the commercial and civic center of the borough, the enhancement of the district's physical appearance, the creation of a downtown atmosphere that is "pedestrian-friendly," the presence of open space and areas for recreation, enhancement of the architecture and facades, and a study of the area of Mill Street and Quimby Lane that would result in an upgrade of the streetscape, a connection of parking areas to one another and the introduction of new land uses.