Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Housing To Broaden Choices and Community


Project Name
Woodmont Metro at Metuchen Station
Transit-oriented retail and residential development and a new public plaza adjacent to Metuchen station

Partners: Woodmont Properties, Borough of Metuchen, Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners, Metuchen Parking Authority, Nexus Properties Inc.


According to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey five-year estimates, almost 80 percent of residents in the Borough of Metuchen live in housing they own. Almost two thirds of the housing stock, both owned and rented, is single-family detached, and less than 5 percent of the housing stock is in buildings of more than five units.

In 2003, the borough began taking steps to diversify its housing stock, in order to create greater opportunities to attract potential residents at different life stages — Millennials just starting out who wanted transit access to jobs, Baby Boomers interested in downsizing but staying in Metuchen. The borough secured Transit Village status from the state Department of Transportation, and, through its Walk Metuchen program, began to implement pedestrian-friendly improvements. In 2007 Metuchen received a Smart Futures grant to support its efforts to establish itself as a walkable, transit-oriented community, and began outreach to community members to find out what their highest priorities were.

At the top of the priority list were a public gathering space, and better connections between Main Street and the borough’s NJ Transit station. Woodmont Metro at Metuchen Station is the realization of those priorities, combined with an effort to diversify the borough’s housing stock.

The project is built on a former commuter surface parking lot, and will offer 273 housing units, 15 percent of which will be affordable, as well as retail space, a parking garage that will serve residents, commuters and shoppers, and a host of resident amenities. In an effort to attract and retain both Millennials and downsizing Baby Boomers, the housing will all be available for rent, and, with the exception of the affordable units, will all be configured with one or two bedrooms.

All of the approximately 625 commuter spaces were preserved in the new parking structure. Because parking demand is staggered and capacity can be shared, only another 125 spaces needed to be added to serve the needs of residents, retail customers and general parking demand in the borough.

But it was the promise of public space that truly galvanized the community to support the project; residents had identified this as a significant void in the area. So a central piece of the project is a public piazza near the train station — a flexible outdoor space in the heart of downtown that can host events ranging from a farmer’s market to outdoor movies, concerts and other events.
The project was not without its challenges. Outdated zoning ordinances that would have prevented this type of development had to be addressed, which the project team did by engaging borough residents early in the process to help create a common vision. Community support for the vision made adjusting the zoning code easier. Now more than 60 percent complete, the project promises to be an enlivened Main Street with a new customer base for the borough’s merchants, a new community gathering-place, and a growing and diverse new downtown neighborhood.

 

Supporting Partners: Beam, Ltd.; Kathy Andrews Interiors; Melillo & Bauer Associates; RTKL International Ltd.; SESI Consulting Engineers; Sharpe Engineering, Inc.; Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer P.A.

Video produced by Lori H. Ersolmaz, Voices of Hope Productions, LLC. © 2017 All rights reserved.

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