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Downtown Revitalization Taking Hold in New Jersey’s Deep South

February 8, 2011

Downtown Millville during their monthly Third Friday event. Source: NJSLOM

As the chief of New Jersey Future’s tongue-in-cheek South Jersey Bureau (as well as a bona-fide South Jerseyan myself), I feel duty bound to pass along this story from The Press of Atlantic City about the renaissance going on in the downtowns of some of New Jersey’s most economically challenged cities.

According to the article, the downtowns of Millville, Vineland and Hammonton, all medium-sized, agriculturally oriented cities in Cumberland and Atlantic counties, have seen significant investment and activity in recent years, thanks in part to the efforts of economic development officials in these places and a commitment to downtown revitalization. The article cites several examples of new businesses opening and innovative marketing approaches, and offers this gem from Vineland’s redevelopment director: “We’re not trying to beat a dead horse, we’re trying to bring in a new horse.”

But not all cities in the region have had success in revitalizing their downtowns. Officials in the shore town of Wildwood are still struggling to remake their Pacific Avenue corridor into a destination for more than college-aged drinkers. And Egg Harbor City has yet to crack the nut of downtown revitalization, in spite of decades of failed and underwhelming redevelopment projects aimed at revitalizing downtown. The mayor blames the “busted housing market and bad economy.” Not mentioned? The several million square feet of retail that has been constructed in the last two decades a few miles down the road in Mays Landing.

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