A nice crowd turned out Saturday to enjoy art, food, and music as part of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District's celebration of the progress that's taken place so far on the redevelopment of South Park Street.
But although everyone enjoyed their sneak peek at the new-and-improved street, there are still additional changes to be made, said Luther Flurry, the BID's executive director.
"First, at a physical level, many details that will give South Park Street a finished look are yet to come," he said. "The trees have been picked and should be planted in October.
"The landscaping has gone out to bid. The street furniture will be installed over the fall," Flurry added. "Shaded benches and leafy plantings will make the street more intimate and inviting. South Park Street will be a place you want to spend time in."
Workers officially broke ground 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 relocate some of its electrical equipment to accommodate the new roadway, which temporarily halted progress on sidewalk reconstruction.
But, as of this month, South Park Street's sidewalks have been widened and angle parking has been replaced by (fewer) parallel spaces.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.
"I really like it," said shopper Mary Resnick. "I think more people will come out to Church Street and South Park Street."
Even so, Flurry said the South Park Street redesign is only the framework for what's still to come.
"Just as a house is a building with potential until a family makes it a home; the real heart and flavor of South Park Street will develop as Montclair Center businesses and guests learn to live in the space," he said. "Over time, merchants will change how they use the sidewalk and the Karl’s building will reorient toward South Park Street.
"Residents, downtown workers, and guests will figure out how they want to live with and use South Park Street, and local organizations will figure out how to create events that take advantage of the different spaces now available on South Park Street," he said. "Much of this will involve trial and error and, because of that, some of the life that comes to South Park Street will be wonderfully unexpected."
Flurry said that Montclair locales already supporting a vibrant street life, such as Church Street, "are living and changing places."
"Successful place-making is always developing, and never complete. I look forward to watching the South Park Street redesign unfold, develop, and mature over the years," he said. "The Montclair Center Business Improvement District is thrilled to be a part of this process."
Did anyone visit South Park Street on Saturday? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section below.