New Brunswick’s Gateway Transit Village Wins Smart Growth Award

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

New Brunswick, N.J.—A 2012 Smart Growth Award from New Jersey Future has been captured by Gateway Transit Village, a new mixed-use development next to the N.J. Transit train station in downtown New Brunswick, N.J.

New Jersey Future is a non-profit smart-growth research and advocacy group based in Trenton, N.J. The esteemed Smart Growth Award was presented to the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) and Pennrose Properties, the public/private partnership behind Gateway Transit Village, in conjunction with the New Brunswick Parking Authority and New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The setting for the presentation was New Jersey Future’s annual Smart Growth Awards ceremony at the Newark Club.

Gateway Transit Village is a 23-story development that includes parking, retail and commercial space, as well as a 192-unit residential component called The Vue. The development was voted best in the state in New Jersey Future’s Transit-Oriented Development Partnership Category.

Gateway Transit Village helped address a number of issues in New Brunswick. “We’ve had a growing need for parking close to the train station,” DEVCO spokeswoman Jean Holtz tells MHN. “Rutgers University needed a new bookstore, we needed new Class-A office space in town, and we needed more market-rate and affordable housing units for our growing population.”

DEVCO, a non-profit redevelopment entity, is exceptionally adept at creating mixed-use developments to solve a variety of public policy concerns, according to Holtz. “These are not one-off projects,” she says.

“We have to leverage several uses, and several different funding mechanisms, to make the economics of it work. We were able to take advantage to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, along with federal New Markets tax credits and a new state tax credit program for urban transit areas, to finance the development.”

Of 192 one- and two-bedroom units comprising The Vue, 42 are condominium homes and the remaining 150 rentals, and 20 percent of the rental apartments are affordable units. The mix of units is far different than initially envisioned in 2007, after which the economy dictated a change in thinking.

“The residences were all designed to be condominiums, we had a commitment from Fannie Mae, and then the bottom dropped out and we had to scramble to reposition, both physically and financially,” Holtz says. “It was easier to get financing for rentals.”

Gateway Transit Village’s completion has generated considerable buzz around New Brunswick, Holtz says. “It’s a very tall building for a small city, and it’s right next to the New Brunswick train station,” she reports. “We were able to connect the main campus at Rutgers with the train platform via a park-like pedestrian platform, and there’s also an iconic Rutgers clock on the new Barnes & Noble Bookstore, giving that area of the city a sense of place and destination.”

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