Central Business District Redevelopment Area
"The Central Business District (CBD) has been the subject of several planning studies. The CBD was a vibrant center for the city in the first half of the twentieth century. Many business owners or managers lived above their stores, which created a constant presence. Bridgeton was a market center for western Cumberland County as well as a small processing center for agricultural products. With the decline of manufacturing and the diversion of retail to highway corridors and shopping malls in the second half of the twentieth century, the CBD has experienced decline.
Bridgeton City has made an effort to beautify the downtown since the 1980’s, with the installation of brick sidewalks, benches, lampposts, and a riverfront promenade. The Main Street program works to revitalize the downtown through a four point approach: design, promotion, economic restructuring, and organization. The downtown is part of the Urban Enterprise Zone, which allows it to charge half of the current rate of sales tax for the state in order to encourage business.
Recreation programs provide events that attract visitors and residents to the downtown, including festivals and concerts. The Bridgeton Farmer’s Market open on Fridays from June to September, also attracts consumers to the downtown. Obstacles to the successful revitalization of the CBD include the local unemployment rate, store vacancies, destruction of buildings by fire and neglect, outdated features, and the high insurance rates. The competition from nearby shopping centers and malls along with the lack of variety of stores also negatively affect the success of the downtown.
The Central Business District was first targeted for rehabilitation in the Riverfront Urban Design Plan. The plan proposed historic renovations to downtown businesses, including both the front and rear facades. Renovating the rear facades and the creation of rear entrances into the Riverfront parking lot connects the businesses with the riverfront promenade while creating a more attractive setting for the riverfront area. The creation of a boat launch site and new restaurant on the river would help to increase recreational opportunities and tourism in the CBD. The riverfront promenade would help to connect the City Park and zoo to the CBD. The new plaza at Commerce St. and the Cohansey River would include a fountain and seating areas.
The plan also suggests the use of second and third floors for residential use to provide a captive market for the downtown shops and services. All of these improvements to the riverfront complement the Central Business District." - Master Plan
A January 8, 2010 Determination of Need report was prepared for the project area and was presented at the January 27, 2010 Planning Board meeting. The Determination of Need report indicated that portions of the Bridgeton Central Business District Study Area met one or more of the statutory criteria to be found to be an Area in Need of Redevelopment.