Only a year ago, former Third Ward Councilor Nick Lewis described a new-and-improved South Park Street that would extend the feel of Church Street and create a new town center designed to draw more people to the downtown area.
Following months of work, the project is—finally—just about done.
South Park Street's sidewalks have been widened and angle parking has been replaced by (fewer) parallel spaces. A median has been created and businesses such as Leone's have set up tables and chairs outside their front doors. In addition, and perhaps most importantly for many residents, the street has been re-opened to car traffic in both directions.
"I really like it," said shopper Mary Resnick. "I think more people will come out to Church Street and South Park Street.
"I just wish there weren't still so many vacant buildings along Bloomfield Avenue,"she said.
To mark the completion of the project, the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID) will host a celebration of South Park Street on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. that will include food, music, and arts and crafts.
"We are so happy that Montclair committed to this necessary rejuvenation project," said Lydia Fantozzi, a spokesperson for BID. "We think that it's a beautiful development and we are eager to have the opportunity to celebrate in it as soon as possible."
Luther Flurry, executive director of BID, recently told Patch that anticipation of South Park Street redevelopment had been a factor in various tenant negotiations, making note of one such business,, that opened next to Urban Outfitters in June.
Flurry said it's impossible to isolate the effects of the South Park Street project from larger economic factors, "but it is certain that the renovation will help draw bigger crowds to the area and increase visibility for the district."
BID also notes the recent opening of various other businesses in the area including Celebrity Styling Groomers at 112 Bloomfield Avenue, TiaMarie Beading Studio at 406 Bloomfield Avenue, Twist Frozen Yogurt at 58 Church Street, My Blue Suede Shoes at 215 Glenridge Avenue, and Anny's Playhouse Child Development Center at 213 Glenridge Avenue.
Michael Restaino, manager of at 19 South Park Street, said the redevelopment project will be a boon for business—and will even lead him to start serving brunch.
Workers officially in late March on the $1 million redevelopment project that has been more than two years in the making after initial estimates suggested the work would be completed in Oct. 2011. Work was then expected to be completed by July 1, 2012 before being delayed yet again.
The stalled progress was because of a combination of inclement weather and problems with utilities. In June, PSE&G was forced to some of its electrical equipment to accommodate the new roadway, which temporarily halted progress on sidewalk reconstruction.
Earlier this month, the northbound side of South Park Street was once again to motorists after being closed to car traffic in late May.
Now both sides of the street have been opened up to motorists.
So what do you think of South Park Street now that the redevelopment project is finally at the finish line? Let us know in the comments section below.