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Ridgewood Central Business District ,the good , the bad and the ugly

CBD Ridgewood by ArtChick

photo by ArtChick

August 27,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Several readers continue to claim the “Majority” of residents are against all development. Its nice to see that Ridgewood residents have now graduated to a “Majority” from gadfly, loud mouth ,minority status.

Reader says , “I think it is time to look around at all the empty stores in Ridgewood and realize there is a need to revamp the CBD. Soon all the shops will move to malls and replaced by housing; think… that what you want? Someone, most likely a shop keeper , is going to come up with ideas to improve the town, what is the problem. Make your own suggestions, welcome those of other residents, and have a discussion rather than complain. Get real people you are losing your central business district!”

Shops moved to malls in the 1970’s , and shopping has moved online since 1994 when Al Gore discovered the internet .

If you are worried about empty stores talk to the landlords not tax payers.  The simple fact is that tax payers are not responsible for a companies business plans. What I would suggest is that in this day and age stores need to make themselves destination businesses ie like Bookends and The Tobacco Shop of Ridgewood & Davidoff Lounge .  Retailers also need to build an online presence , websites, social media , press releases and they need to tell their story ; think why would I want to go here when I have to pay for parking? This is one of the reasons there are so many great restaurants in Ridgewood ,chefs have great stories to tell.

My biggest suggestion for Ridgewood merchants is to be open more hours. No one is home by 5pm. I can not tell you how many businesses have opened and closed that I have never seen open. The fact is most people who can afford to live in Ridgewood need to work a lot or hours , anywhere from 65 -80 hours per week and odd hours early am to late pm. So merchants need to develop strategies ,be it home or Train station delivery or open by appointment what ever it takes that is the new reality.

Destroying Van Nest Square will do nothing to help business and will most likely hurt business as much or more than the so called “traffic easing” ,that now backs traffic up into Midland Park. Making access to the almost CBD impossible from the West side of Town .

Another reader says, “James, you’re ignoring the facts. What is worth preserving of the old car dealers, old Town Garage and its toxic site, etc? What about all the empty shops and gold pawn shops? Why is this worth preserving? The majority rule wants to keep the status quo… which clearly isn’t working.”

First I was only posting comments and turning them into posts , so how exactly is destroying Van Nest square going to get rid of old car dealers,a toxic site, gold pawn shops and empty stores ? This maybe your problem you keep wanting to fix things that are not broken yet you ignore all the things that need fixing ? The solutions have to fit the problems. If the Village wants to clean up a toxic site it needs to take the steps to clean it up, not build a parking lot.

Now in New York City developers who wish to build non-conforming structures can often make a deal with the city by adding to public spaces, fixing subways or adding and maintaining new plantings.  In New Jersey we socialize the investment ie taxpayer funded yet we capitalize the profits. So taxpayers pay and developers make the money. Another words Ridgewood taxpayers build a parking garage so developers can reduce the amount of parking they offer and save money. and thus the continued rejection of a parking garage.

Now what you should be asking yourself is how could a bureaucratic organization like NJT fix the train trestle, raise the tracks , and renovate the train station while preserving and improving its historic nature in a relatively short amount of time. How could New Jersey Transit do all that yet Valley Hospital , a handful of developers, and a cadre of council members could not get anything done at all what so ever. NJT was willing to work with the town ,meet objections compromise and get the job done.