NEWTON, NJ – Revitalization is the theme in Newton as a variety of efforts are underway, some at different stages in many sections of town.
The former armory building located behind the ShopRite of Newton is one area in where revitalization activity will take place, and the ShopRite facility has plans to expand. However, it cannot until a clean up takes place, one that the state is responsible for.
Town of Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo, Jr., said that a tank leakage at the property has yielded a list of compounds, with cleanup anticipated at $1.6 to $2.4 million to remediate.
Representative from the Town of Newton have continued to have dialogue with state representatives to push the progress along.
“Nothing will happen until it’s cleaned up,” Russo said.
The state, he said, cannot go after itself.
“It’s like the left hand smacking at the right,” added Russo.
Russo said that neither ShopRite nor the town are responsible for clean up costs, and the town is exploring information in its dialogues with the state, about grants available to initiate the process.
Hicks Avenue Redevelopment
“This is proceeding nicely,” said Russo.
The former Newco property on Hicks Avenue will be the site of 70 luxury townhouses for rent. A national retail location, Russo said, will also be on the property, along Sparta Avenue, though the retail establishment considered for the site is not publicly announced at this time.
“We look forward to being a home for this new business,” Russo said.
Grande Villaggio at Newton
The Grande Villaggio townhouse style homes are for sale behind the Quick Chek and Krave off of Sparta Avenue. There will be 54 townhomes and six affordable housing units. The homes are two or three bedrooms with one or two garage options.
Prices begin at $239,000 per unit. Martorana Enterprises is the developer of the homes, with Fairclough Realtors the property manager.
Newton Moose Lodge
The Moose Lodge 432 on Diller Avenue, and the building adjacent to it, are slated for new and improved buildings in the current location.
Credits Thorlabs for Redevelopment Renaissance
Russo has credited the redevelopment efforts at Thorlabs at 56 Sparta Avenue a catalyst for the other initiatives around town.
Thorlabs celebrated its ribbon cutting on March 23, 2012. The site was approved for redevelopment in 2005, and the rehabilitation of the property commenced in 2007.
Redevelopment of the tract started in 2009 of the 125,000 square foot facility. The company has become a valuable resource for job creation and continues to grow, with the Newton facility the world headquarters. The company has other offices within the United States, and other facilities worldwide in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Germany, China, Japan, and Brazil. Thorlabs distributors are additionally situated throughout Europe, Israel, Asia, Australia, and Canada.
There are various efforts to continue to help grow the downtown, and invite businesses and customers to spend time more easily in Downtown Newton.
Free Parking on Saturdays
Free parking, which comprises one-hour increments weekdays on Spring Street, and then is free after 6 p.m. around town, will be free on Saturdays starting at the end of August.
One-Way Traffic on Spring Street
The town has submitted plans to the Department of Transportion (DOT) to change the traffic direction on Spring Street from The Newton Theatre to Main Street as a one-way street. Traffic currently flows from both directions, changing fully to a one-way street as Main Street intersects with Spring Street.
Russo said he is uncertain if lane changes may take effect, with the lanes as they currently are situated at the square.
Parking will now be on both sides of Spring Street from the theatre to Main Street, and parallel. As it stands now, parking will remain free as it is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., in one-hour increments, adding the new spots to the roster of available places to park. After 6 p.m., parking will be unlimited as it is now, on Spring Street in the evenings.
“It puts to bed the parking issues in Newton,” said Russo.
There is still a vision for the McGuire Chevrolet property to be redeveloped into a hotel complex, with underground parking. There is also hope that the post office will expand into a new facility.
“It’s a prime location for redevelopment potential,” Russo said.
The town will be conducting another lighting study, after making previous improvements to the lighting, with antique-style lighting in the alleyways and along the streets. Russo said that there are still areas from the theater to the municipal building area, which require improvement.
“Some spots are not as well lit,” he said.
An engineering study is being conducted to determine the deficiencies, and if the issues belong to the town, JCP&L, or both.
Special Improvement District
The Special Improvement District idea was nixed in the late spring, but Russo said a part two is in the works. Russo and members of the council have toured other towns such as Red Bank, Morristown, and Westfield, to see the benefits these municipalities have experienced with special improvement districts. Officials in these towns described that their amount of vacancies before the special improvement district formations equated to what Newton has experienced. Some have experienced vacancies from 40 percent to one percent, in a nine-year period.
The group plans to tour Somerville, and learn more about its Special Improvement District.
One of the benefits, Russo said, that Newton has over the towns that have proceeded it, is the access to data, and other tools that the locations such as Red Bank, Morristown and Westfield, did not have when their improvements were taking place. The Town of Newton is able to view the models of the other towns.
“We’re already so far ahead from where they were,” Russo said.
Stay on the scene with NJInsideScene.com and continue to follow stories like this one, on our Facebook Page. Click here to “like” NJ Inside Scene on Facebook.