A two-part public forum hosted by Bloomfield-based Prism Capital Partners and Nutley-based ON3 last month emphasized key issues in suburban revitalization. Three nationally recognized speakers examined trends in urban planning and future growth as New Jersey’s suburbs evolve, with more than 350 local residents, municipal officials and other stakeholders in attendance.
During the first session, Dr. James W. Hughes, university professor and former dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, spoke of fundamental structural disruptions in New Jersey due to the changing of the “generational guard.”
“The baby boomers shaped all dimensions of New Jersey – prompting a pattern of sprawling suburban development,” he said. “Today, that suburban-centric legacy is fading, with an empty-nester generation that seeks walkable, activity centered environments with public transit. And just as boomers were suburban centric, millennials are urban centric.” Hughes noted that food, fitness and fun are clear characteristics of the Millennial lifestyle – ones that are impacting corporate locational decision making.
Part two of the forum featured speakers Chris Porter, vice president and chief demographer at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, and Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor and director of the Urban Design Program at Georgia Tech. Porter discussed major influencers and attributes of the U.S. population by decade, and examined the rapid demographic shifts that are shaping communities nationwide. “We are using the term ‘surban’ – bringing the urban way of life to the suburbs – to describe what today’s trends and future predictions for consumer behavior demand,” he noted. “Municipalities can assist with successful growth by making investments in downtown redevelopment that brings together retail, office and housing.”
Dunham-Jones examined the importance, practicality and success of using urban design principals in suburban retrofit and redevelopment – citing mixed-use community cases from throughout the United States. “The real objective of renovating the suburban workplace is to attract the 25- to 34-year-old demographic – if you get them, you will keep them,” she said, adding that these younger professionals seek walkable environments with active, public spaces, great places to eat and live, and diversity of people. “Urbanism has become the new amenity.”
Ultimately, the suburban revitalization forum focused on ways redevelopment can be tailored to take advantage of the demographic, socio-economic and lifestyle trends impacting how people wish to live, work and play. The program was part of an ongoing effort to engage public dialogue in the master planning for Prism Capital Partners’ ON3 – the 116-acre, former Hoffmann-LaRoche campus redevelopment spanning the Township of Nutley and City of Clifton.
“We are so grateful to our presenters and to everyone who came out to learn more about the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of mixed-use suburban redevelopment,” noted Prism Capital Partners’ Eugene Diaz, principal partner. “Our shared goal is to effect appropriate change – change that will capture and drive economic strength for the communities of Nutley and Clifton in a manner that will serve them not just today but for decades to come.”
The ON3 redevelopment represents New Jersey’s next generation lifestyle hub. It is positioned to set a benchmark in Walking Urbanism, promising a world-class, mixed-use setting integrating office and R&D facilities, recreational, hospitality and wellness options as well as all other uses that will comprise the 24/7 environment. The site is strategically located on Route 3, sandwiched between the Garden State Parkway and the NJ Turnpike just nine miles from the Lincoln Tunnel.
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