UNION, NJ – The Stuyvesant Avenue Streetscape project is underway and progress is evident along the first stretch of sidewalk near Vauxhall Road.
Plans for the streetscape include updating and reconstructing the sidewalks along Stuyvesant Avenue, new seating, street trees, new curbs, corner treatments and a raised mid-block crossing to accommodate pedestrians.
According to township officials, the streetscape is part of the revitalization of Union Center. Township Administrator Ron Manzella points out other redevelopment efforts that include Cara Lofts, the first mixed-use development opened in 2014 that has been at 100 percent occupancy since opening, and a retail/residential development, expected to be completed this fall, across from Stop n’ Shop and O’Lagar Restaurant on Stuyvesant Avenue.
A mixed use development by American Landmark Developers, Inc. -- consisting of a retail/residential building on Stuyvesant Avenue, in the area of the current Terminal Mills building, and a residential structure behind on Bonnel Court -- was recently approved by the township’s Planning Board.
At that meeting, some residents voiced their concern about American Landmark’s development in regard to the parking and traffic impact. According to Joseph Staigar, a professional engineer and planner from Dynamic Traffic, the proposed development “will not have any negative impact on traffic conditions in the area".
Of the parking impact, Staigar said, “there is no overburden of parking demand to the public,” said Staigar. “Three independent analyses clearly indicate that there will be sufficient parking to accommodate the site and still have ample parking availability for the public.”
The American Landmark Developers Project is anticipated to begin construction late this year.
“After several years of infrastructure improvements and engineering studies, we have visible progress and the streetscape is just a single piece of that,” said Manzella.
“The long term plans are to help our Center and all of Union thrive by attracting and bringing in self-sustaining businesses, and adding the necessary foot traffic to support them,” said Manzella. “We're also hoping that these improvements and beautification efforts will encourage other property owners to follow the trend and upgrade and improve their properties to continue to build a more modern retail experience.”
According to township officials, the Union uses their Master Plan as a guide when considering the ideas of development and improvements.
“Studies have shown that introducing these types of projects into communities will actually increase that community’s revenue without significantly increasing the infrastructure and public service burdens,” said Township of Union Mayor Suzette Cavadas.
Cavadas said the streetscape project is rolling out alongside phases one and two of the township’s regular road program with $215,000 of funding coming from the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund.
“Our intent,” added Township Committeewoman Michele Delisfort, “is to make the area more pedestrian friendly, draw people from the Township and neighboring municipalities to our downtown, and enhance aesthetics of Stuyvesant Ave.”
“Another added benefit of the streetscape project is that it ensures the development of a unique public space in our downtown and has a multitude of benefits to our health, safety, economy and environment,” continued Delisfort. “Essentially, the streetscape project is expected to create a safe, pleasant, attractive and comfortable place to live, shop and linger.”
From the favorable feedback he’s received, Manzella said, “I think people are nostalgic for the bustling Center of years past and recognize that revitalization is good for everyone.”
Phase one of the Stuyvesant Ave. streetscape project which spans Vauxhall Rd. to Morris Ave. is scheduled for completion in the early fall, and full reconstruction and repaving of the street taking place in the late fall. Phase two, which spans Morris Ave to the Cannon at the end of Stuyvesant Ave, is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2018.