Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


Rezoning From Industrial to Transit-Oriented

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Project Name: Netherwood Transit-Oriented Development Plan
Plan and updated zoning to revitalize the neighborhood around a key transit asset

Partners: City of Plainfield; New Jersey Institute of Technology College of Architecture and Design

Smart-Growth Challenge: How can a small city reinvigorate a low-density area of primarily industrial buildings with a busy train station at its center?

The city of Plainfield is blessed with not one but two NJ TRANSIT train stations: Plainfield, which anchors the city’s downtown area, and Netherwood, at the city’s eastern end. A 2010 study on transit-oriented development opportunities in Plainfield, prepared by the Master of Infrastructure Planning Program of the College of Architecture and Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, led the city to rezone both station areas, including designation of a new high-density residential zone and of the Gateway  Redevelopment Area, to encourage transit-oriented development. The Plainfield station was able to receive Transit Village designation from the New Jersey Department of Transportation in 2014, and now has 15 projects either completed or under construction that have begun revitalizing the city’s core.

With the advent of weekday one-seat rides into Manhattan via the Raritan Valley Line, both stations are anticipating increases in ridership. The city wanted to capitalize on the resulting redevelopment potential around the Netherwood station, located amid a neighborhood of low-density, single-story industrial and commercial buildings. Ideally, it would like to secure Transit Village designation for this station as well.

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As with the downtown station, its first step was to change the zoning to allow higher densities and a greater mix of uses, including the first residential and the first street-level retail in the area. Next, the city identified the historic buildings in the area, including a firehouse, a former armory and the train station itself, that it wanted to preserve so that they could serve as anchors for the new district. An area of redevelopment has also been proposed within the district, which, if approved, will allow additional high-density housing to be built.

Open space and public-realm improvements are also included in the plan. The city has identified Plainfield Square Park for refurbishing, and will develop a bike linkage system that will traverse the entire district, on both sides of the rail embankment behind the properties along South Avenue. Streetscape enhancements on South Avenue, such as brick-replicating pedestrian crosswalks, will improve safety and highlight the historic details in the district.

Leading the support for this revitalization was the community of business owners in the area, who have played an active role in the redevelopment process. Property owners also championed the public-realm improvements as they saw their property values enhanced, and the community at large was eager to see a fully functioning mixed-use neighborhood around the Netherwood station.

The steps taken as a result of the 2010 study have been pivotal in attracting developers interested in taking advantage of the city’s transit-oriented development opportunities. Soon the Netherwood neighborhood will have its first completed mixed-use development along all of South Avenue. The city’s next step is to apply for Transit Village designation for Netherwood, to gain access to additional resources that will help make the area a truly vibrant, cohesive neighborhood with transit at its center.

Supporting partners: HOPES Community Action Partnership; Paramount Assets; Sumo Urban Renewal Corp.; TJC & BVR LLC

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