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Old 02-08-2011, 10:22 PM
 
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I often hear househunters list a 'nice downtown' as an important factor in where they live next.

How many of us actually take advantage of the restaurants and shops provided by our city's downtowns?

I'm asking 'cus in my town of Rutherford, several businesses have already closed since I moved in last September. A few other businesses are struggling partly due to the recession but partly because Rutherford, like many towns near NYC, are commuter towns. Here, people often go from work straight home and few stop by downtown to eat or shop.

With that said, do you think this is the norm and if it is, are our downtowns are doomed?
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:34 PM
 
Location: On the Rails in Northern NJ
12,344 posts, read 13,763,954 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimchee View Post
I often hear househunters list a 'nice downtown' as an important factor in where they live next.

How many of us actually take advantage of the restaurants and shops provided by our city's downtowns?

I'm asking 'cus in my town of Rutherford, several businesses have already closed since I moved in last September. A few other businesses are struggling partly due to the recession but partly because Rutherford, like many towns near NYC, are commuter towns. Here, people often go from work straight home and few stop by downtown to eat or shop.

With that said, do you think this is the norm and if it is, are our downtowns are doomed?
The cities / towns that have there downtowns away form the Shopping highways are doing better then the ones near them like Rutherford. Westwood , Ridgewood , Morristown all seem to be doing fine with there Downtowns , yet Rutherford , Passaic , and Allendale seem to have issues..... If you put something attractive in your Downtown then people with be attracted to it , shops and restaurants do not cut it anymore you need to put Educational places , Entertainment businesses and Dense housing. Many downtowns in this state are too open , they should be Dense and mixed with Residential too add more upbeat look. Railway towns have advantage over non Railway towns but most of them haven't taken advantage of that yet....
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:04 AM
 
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Many downtowns are struggling right now. Ridgewood's downtown is struggling, lots of empty storefronts.

I think people say they want a downtown but then they don't support it as often as they can or should if they want to keep the downtown, and instead go for the cheapest products wherever.

I don't think downtowns are doomed though, but they will be limited to things that people will use frequently, like pizza places and banks.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:43 AM
 
Location: Redneckville, NJ
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Yes, all the time. Although there isn't much there. Only things open are a bank, pizzeria/pub, liquor store, general store and a coffee shop. There are a few other stores/buildings, but they are all vacant.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:15 AM
Status: "The Union forever! Down with the traitors." (set 2 days ago)
 
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I grew up in Collingswood which is a town whose made their downtown section a major focus and it has certainly changed for the better over the years. However, it is now mostly restaurants and even when you live a couple blocks from one of the hottest eateries in the area, how often do you really go there?

When my wife and I moved to Logan Twp., last year, while we sort of live in Logan's downtown, the more traditional downtown is the next town over, Swedesboro. Although there is a nice bakery and some restaurants, again how often will you really go there? For us it has been maybe a dozen times in the past year.

To address the OP, I think a lot of people want that Norman Rockwell and/or hip downtown area, but it is something that isn't really necessary and is easy enough to drive to if you wanted to go there. I personally wouldn't let my desire for a brick paved main street with shops and restaurants to be a "must" on my house shopping list.

To take it a bit further, I think this is also the reason that downtowns in populated areas struggle. The chain stores and malls littered throughout the area often have better prices and better selections and are more accessible. I think downtowns need to work on trying to implement more destination style places to draw in traffic.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:51 PM
 
1,195 posts, read 1,802,013 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
To address the OP, I think a lot of people want that Norman Rockwell and/or hip downtown area, but it is something that isn't really necessary and is easy enough to drive to if you wanted to go there. I personally wouldn't let my desire for a brick paved main street with shops and restaurants to be a "must" on my house shopping list.
I could not agree more. This is so true.

I think people place too much emphasis on the laundry list item "nice downtown" when they're shopping around for a town. What does it matter whether the downtown in your town stinks or is awesome? Most towns in north Jersey have a downtown in some form or another, NONE of them is perfect, NONE of them has everything you want, and ALL of them are a short car trip away (the majority of the time, you have to drive to the downtown in your OWN town...so it's not a big deal to spend an extra 5 minutes to go to the one in the town to the east, west, north or south).

I frequent the downtowns in Morristown, Summit, Millburn, Montclair, Verona, Madison and Chatham. And I've heard that both Maplewood and Denville have cute downtowns so those are on my list to explore one of these days. I also like Dover...it's not the first town that comes to mind when talking "nice downtowns", but I think Dover's dowtown is cute, has some interesting architecture, it's a nice little ethnic enclave for a different experience, plus it has a couple of antique shops that are very unique.

Every downtown is unique. (I don't live in any of those town, by the way.)
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Holmdel, NJ
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ive got houlihans like a mile away from me. what else do i need?
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:09 PM
 
1,195 posts, read 1,802,013 times
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Oh, as for the question of "Are our downtowns doomed?", it's hard to say. I would like to remain positive and chalk most of the empty store fronts up to the bad economy...and I'd like to think that this will eventually turn around.

However, I have read some very pessimistic reports about the future of suburbs in general---that the suburban office park will soon be a thing of the past because they are no longer economically or environmentally sustainable (and supposedly, there are more and more abandoned office parks everyday), people are flocking back to the big cities because houses are astronomically too expensive, high property taxes, rising fuel costs, etc. etc.

PLUS, the ol' brick & mortar store, in general, is suffering because of internet competition. Even the big chain stores have competition from the internet. The small mom & pop joints have competition both from the big chains AND the internet.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Historic Downtown Jersey City
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People are attracted to the idea of a quaint Main Street because it is cute, traditional, and charming.

In 2011 suburbia however, cars are king, and the nature of downtown retail does NOT cater to drivers (parking, etc). It's not that convenient if you're driving, unfortunately. This is why over the past 30 years you've seen an increase in strip malls and big box stores with HUGE parking lots. You can't really fault the big box stores and planners - for a society that relies on cars, it IS convenient. This is why I generally am not a fan of living in suburban areas these days (although NJ suburbs, and Northeast US suburbs in general, have much less of the soul-less strip mall feeling). It's super depressing to me. It reeks of blandness, homogenization, and just ... Generic America.

As kids, we would walk or ride bikes into downtown Cranford literally every day in the summertime, and hang out there all day, shopping and eating. In high school, I would walk to school prior to having a car, and the route I walked went straight through downtown. So yeah ... as kids we would get a ton of use out of the downtown.

I prefer a city lifestyle now (super walkable...don't need a car), but if I was to ever go back to the suburbs, I think I would only consider towns that have a nice downtown, and within walking distance to my home. It's just nicer to have that ... and it does provide more of a community feel.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by seque5tra View Post
d.

However, I have read some very pessimistic reports about the future of suburbs in general---that the suburban office park will soon be a thing of the past because they are no longer economically or environmentally sustainable (and supposedly, there are more and more abandoned office parks everyday), people are flocking back to the big cities because houses are astronomically too expensive, high property taxes, rising fuel costs, etc. etc.
I don't think the suburbs are going away. I think I've read some of that same stuff, and it always seems to be written by some snob who lives in Manhattan. Once people have kids they like having single family houses, cars, backyards etc.
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