WOODBRIDGE – To “do nothing is unacceptable” to keep downtown Woodbridge thriving and in the mix with other towns with train stations.
“Main Street simply cannot fail and absent the infusion of business from foot traffic from local residents and communities it will,” Mayor John McCormac said during his annual State of the Township address in January.
That is why major development is underway of downtown luxury apartments and retail projects.
“The Prism [Capital Partners] project at the [former Rug’s and Riffy’s Bar and Grill on Rahway Avenue] should be open by late spring,” McCormac said.
The project includes 232 luxury rentals and 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space.
The first retail tenant of the site will be LeGrand Coffee House owned by the township’s very own Eric LeGrand.
“Eric’s first business venture will be right here in our downtown,” McCormac said. “He’s an amazing popular young man, who dealt with a truly horrific injury to become a national sensation spokesperson for spinal cord injuries. Anytime someone in the world has a similar injury, they can count on inspiring words from our local hero.”
In October 2010, LeGrand sustained a spinal cord injury at his C3 and C4 vertebrae while playing football for Rutgers University.
The LeGrand Coffee House opened online on Jan. 12. The online shop for LeGrand Coffee House currently features a custom mug and three different types of coffee from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Sumatra.
LeGrand hopes that his company can serve as a vehicle to bring people together and inspire them by providing a “Daily Cup of Believe.” As an African American man in a wheelchair, he knows what it is like to have the odds stacked against you, he said. However, he said he approaches every single day with a mode of positivity that enables him to accomplish any goal he sets his mind towards achieving.
Right behind LeGrand’s investment will be a brand new retail site at the corner of Main Street and Route 35. The owners have prepared plans to completely redesign the façade of the building, McCormac said.
The township purchased the old bank building at 106 Main St. McCormac said discussions are underway to bring a steakhouse to the site, which is “something that is sorely needed on Main Street.”
“We are looking forward to many more future investments,” he said, adding construction at the former Hess site, strip mall across the street from Town Hall and the former Stern Tower site has begun.
McCormac said although most residents in the downtown projects will be train and bus commuters, the township has taken and will continue to take steps to mitigate the minimum increase in traffic from the developments.
The township is underway in the complete redesign of Main Street and Route 9 intersection, which will be funded by county and state grants. Truck traffic has been eliminated from Main and Green streets.
McCormac noted the brand new Ross Street School and virtually brand new Woodbridge Middle School are both designed for and can easily handle any number of additional students. He said the 500 Station Village luxury apartments in Avenel have only produced 51 students.
The downtown projects will also bring in tax dollars to the township, McCormac said. The former Stern Senior building produced no taxes as a senior building. With the development, it will pay $23 million over more than 30 years when complete.
The development of the former Hess site will pay $48 million over more than 30 years when complete. And the development of the strip mall across from Town Hall will produce over $1 million a year. The township collected $136,000 from the strip mall site last year.