South Orange, West Orange receive downtown grant money

Photo Courtesy of Julie Doran
South Orange has recieved money to put a digital information kiosk near the NJ Transit station and a second one on South Orange Avenue.

South Orange and West Orange received grants from the state Department of Community Affairs for improvements to their Main Street sections.

The state awarded a total of $571,378 in Main Street New Jersey Transformation Grants to Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) district organizations across New Jersey. The grants are aimed at improving the appearance, quality of life, and local commerce within MSNJ districts.

“I am pleased that we’re able to offer yet another round of Transformation Grants,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “We see the value of investing in our local downtowns, which empowers them to build vibrant neighborhoods and communities and improve the overall quality of life.”

The MSNJ Program helps municipalities improve the economy, appearance, and image of their central business districts through the organization of local citizens and resources. Municipalities must apply and be selected to join the MSNJ Program, which was established in 1989. These designated communities receive technical support and training to assist in restoring their main streets as centers of economic and social activity.

For the first 29 years of its history, the MSNJ Program primarily provided technical assistance and training with limited financial assistance. However, since 2019, the program has distributed approximately $4 million in grants – including the funding announced today – to MSNJ district organizations.

“This year, we’re excited to include additional activities that districts could apply for including streetscaping, courtyard and alleyway improvement, and public art projects. Additionally, funds were made available for marketing assistance,” said Keith Henderson, director of the Division of Local Planning Services, which administers the MSNJ Program. “We look forward to seeing how these projects will help to showcase each district’s unique characteristics.”

The six types of projects and activities that were eligible for Transformation Grant funding are as follows: Storefront and facade improvement projects; streetscaping projects; courtyard and alleyway improvement projects; public art projects; placemaking projects; and marketing assistance

The South Orange Village Center Alliance received $27,000 for digital information kiosks. A digital information kiosk will be installed in the Sloan Street Lot – a center point of the district and a heavily trafficked NJ Transit hub – and on South Orange Avenue.

The Downtown West Orange Alliance received $33,000 for alley improvements. The money will be used to activate the alleyway between the parking lot and Main Street with hanging art décor that lights up. Examples of these light up structures include but are not limited to entryway arches, oversized leaves and flowers, shade structures with seating, and a people-sized photo-op butterfly structure.

The Springfield Avenue Partnership will receive $20,000 to hire a professional marketing agency to help the Springfield Avenue Partnership capture neighboring communities including Irvington, Union, Vauxhall, into the district and better compete with Downtown Maplewood and South Orange.