By John Burton |
RED BANK — The downtown’s English Plaza area will get a facelift, thanks to a $500,000 zero-interest loan from the state.
The state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced last week it was awarding Red Bank RiverCenter the loan as part of the DCA’s Zero Interest Downtown Business Improvement Zone Loan.
The loan and grant program is part of the department’s Main Street New Jersey coordinating program, intended to offer assistance for the purchase of property for a right of way or other easement needs in a business district, or for public facilities and improvements.
RiverCenter’s executive director Jame Scavone said it competed for the loan in an application process that began more than a year ago.
As detailed in the application, the money will be used for hardscape improvements for the English Plaza area in the downtown commercial district. English Plaza is located between White and West Front streets, encompassing White Street from Broad Street to English Plaza and from White to West Front.
There isn’t a completed plan for the project as of yet, but Scavone said it would include repairing and replacing sections of sidewalks, and decorative street lighting and landscaping to the area, similar to other streetscape projects undertaken by RiverCenter over the years. Previously, the organization had completed work to Broad Street and on Monmouth Street up to Maple Avenue. Those projects were assisted by the DCA program, as well, Scavone noted.
This work will make “the area not only more attractive but also safer,” Scavone said. “Obviously as we make the town more attractive, we hope it attracts more people to Red Bank and helps the businesses.”
DCA’s announcement was met with political bi-partisan support. Republican state Senator Jennifer Beck, whose 11th Legislative District includes Red Bank, said in a press statement, “This $500,000 award will provide funds to improve visual appeal, safety, and retail cachet,” for that portion of the downtown, “improving quality of life for all who frequent downtown Red Bank.”
Beck’s 11th District Assembly counterparts, Democrats Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, said in their press release that last summer they provided a letter of support urging the DCA to approve this application.
“Red Bank has become one of the best downtown destinations in New Jersey,” Downey was quoted in the release, “and we are so proud to see business owners and residents coming together to better their town.”
Red Bank RiverCenter has two years to undertake the project, according to the loan requirements.
Red Bank RiverCenter, established in the early 1990s, is a not-for-profit organization that manages and advocates for the borough commercial Special Improvement District, with the district initially encompassing the downtown area and later expanded to include some areas of the borough’s West Side.
This article was first published in the May 4-11, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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