FANWOOD, NJ — Westfield Town Planner Don Sammett was among attendees from around the state at the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA)'s Creative Community Investments workshop at the Carriage House in Fanwood Thursday. The event was hosted by Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr.

The program highlighted Fanwood's award-winning downtown redevelopment endeavors that transformed dilapidated buildings, empty storefronts, neglected properties and unsightly vacant lots into a downtown that is being transformed around a "transit village" concept.

"I'm so proud that Fanwood was chosen as a model for this workshop," said Mayor Mahr. "While we have come a long way, there is still much work to do. Investment and growth in our town continues."

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As part of the program, titled "Urban/Suburban Regional Planning and Redevelopment: What Makes It Work," workshop attendees took a bus tour of nearby redevelopment projects, including the apartments at 333 Central in Westfield. Other stops included

  • 1340-1426 South Ave. in Plainfield, where a proposed development of 212 residential units are planned;
  • 926-1018 North Ave. in Plainfield, the site of a 44,000+ sq. ft., five-story, mixed residential/retail building will be erected;
  • 400, 450-290 South Ave. and 50 and 70 Center St. in Garwood, a site where vacant former industrial buildings will be demolished, remediated and redeveloped for mixed use. The proposed building will include 298 apartments and nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space within the South Ave. Transit Oriented Redevelopment area;
  • Fanwood Crossing, the primary block of the borough bound by South Ave. and Martine Ave. (The group also looked at the new pedestrian walkway behind the Martine Ave. retailers and the Station Square and Jobar Realty construction sites on Second St. near LaGrande Ave.

Attendees, who came from nearby Scotch Plains, Plainfield and Westfield and as far as Morristown, saw presentations on redevelopment planning law, project financing, tax credits and abatements, and other topics. Discussions covered Framework for Regional Planning and Transit-Oriented Development Projects; Market Conditions, Site Assemblage, Design Relocation, Open Space and Housing Options; Redevelopment Agreements, Municipal Approvals, COAH and Public/Private Partnerships. 

The NJRA, which organized the two-day workshop in Fanwood, invests financial and technical resources into redevelopment projects and plans that create a positive impact in eligible communities. Its primary goal is to ensure that projects are urban-focused, neighborhood-based, and investment-driven.

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