Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Taylor Vose Building Brings Life to Downtown South Orange

Project Name: Taylor Vose Building

State-of-the-art mixed-use development that is reshaping the historic downtown core in South Orange and reconnecting it with its past.

Primary Partner Team: Vose Avenue Apartments Urban Renewal, LLV; Marchetto Higgins Stieve Architects; Professional Construction Management, LLC; Township of South Orange Village

 


“The mission statement of this co-retail and commuter space in South Orange is to support local and neighboring community makers, artists and small businesses by providing an experiential co-retail, incubation and community-building space,” said Deborah Engel, a creator of the General Store Cooperative in Maplewood, describing the Taylor Vose project in South Orange.

In the heart of downtown South Orange, a five-story building— formerly an old Blockbuster and before that, the beloved Grunning’s ice cream parlor—is being revitalized into a successful mixed-use community development project. With the redevelopment of the Taylor/Vose building, South Orange’s historic downtown core is in the process of being reshaped into a more walkable and accessible space within the community. A three-minute walk from the train station, the building masterfully combines transit-oriented development, affordable housing, community usage, local business, and a strong design aesthetic to create a multimodal space for community members to live and thrive. By redeveloping this historic building with attention to pedestrian connectivity to NJ Transit, South Orange is committing to increasing human-scaled activity for residents and visitors to enjoy the village outside of their automobiles.

The building has allocated space for 110 units of housing in South Orange, with a portion of the units allocated for affordable housing. At the same time, the building offers true value through its usage as a makerspace and incubator of local businesses. The ground floor of the building offers retail space, which will be managed by a community nonprofit to offer below-market rates for makers, artists, and community groups to work in the mixed-use space. Community input has provided ambitious aspirations for the community space, including hopes for the restoration of Grunning’s, space for the establishment of new businesses, and the implementation of rotating programs to attract new and diverse people to the building and local area to show South Orange’s impressive revitalization efforts. Within the project, there is a nonprofit being formed to manage the Taylor Vose building space, helping food trucks become established brick and mortar restaurants among other efforts at community engagement. Through all this, South Orange community members, families, and local businesses can convene in the same inclusive, accessible space at affordable prices, bringing life into the downtown once more. This focus on delivering true community benefits with redevelopment is a great achievement, and an example for other developments to follow.

The design process for the building has actively engaged with community members for input and feedback. Measures have been taken to keep the downtown and building aesthetically-pleasing, including building an expansion upwards to keep streets walkable and well-designed. The Taylor Vose Building project is composed of a team including Vose Avenue Apartments Urban Renewal, LLV; Marchetto Higgins Stieve Architects; Professional Construction Management, LLC; and the Township of South Orange Village. 

Overall, it is clear that the larger process of revitalizing the downtown of South Orange Village is well-supported by the efforts with the Taylor Vose Building project. For this reason, New Jersey Future is delighted to announce the Taylor Vose Building team as a winner of the Smart Growth Awards for 2022. The project’s attention to smart growth in the areas of housing, local business, effective use of space and design, and accessible public spaces indicates its strong capacity to support the revitalization of South Orange. The project offers much promise in the way of attracting life, community, and visitors to the train town of South Orange Village, adhering to values of smart growth and good urbanism.

 

See all 2022 Smart Growth Awards winners

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