CITY OF PLAINFIELD PROPOSAL
THE NEW JERSEY RAILROAD & TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM COMMISSION
City of Plainfield
Hon. Al McWilliams, Mayor
515 Watchung Avenue
Plainfield, NJ 07060
(908) 753-3310 - FAX (908) 753-3634
The New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Museum Commission
Trenton, New Jersey
The City of Plainfield takes this opportunity to enthusiastically reaffirm its interest in being designated as the permanent site of the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Heritage Museum with this updated proposal. Our City, with a history closely connected to transportation through both the Central Jersey Railroad and Mack Trucks, is the best available site for the Museum.
A culturally diverse and vibrant regional hub for Central New Jersey, Plainfield offers a site easily accessible by rail, bus and automobile. As you will see in the materials that follow, the proposed site for this project is located on New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Train line, and includes opportunities for both museum and heritage center spaces, as well as storage, excursions, and equipment restoration.
Plainfield stands ready to expedite the process of the establishment of the Heritage Museum in our City and will work closely with the Commission in expediting local and state permits and clearances necessary for this project. In addition, the City will assist the Commission in its attempts to secure federal, state, local and private funds to bring the building of the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Heritage Museum to reality.
Your review of our presentation and consideration of Plainfield as the site for this Museum is appreciated. We look forward to a close and productive relationship with the Commission in the siting of the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Heritage Museum in Plainfield.
January 20, 1998
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents
Plainfield as a Desired Location
Location and Access
Historic Qualities of "The Queen City"
Availability of a Suitable Site
City of Plainfield Proposal
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THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD AS A DESIRED LOCATION
The City of Plainfield offers the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Museum Commission an ideal location in which to develop the future railroad and transportation heritage museum. The strength of the City as a suitable location is founded upon its centralized location, ease of access to the City by both highway and mass transit, the rich history of the "Queen city;" the availability of infrastructure to support the proposed facility, the city's designation as an Urban Enterprise Zone, and the availability of a site that is particularly suited to the Commission's needs.
LOCATION and ACCESS
Plainfield, a City of six square miles, is strategically located in north central New Jersey in the westernmost section of Union County. Plainfield is 24 miles southwest of New York City; 18 miles from Newark and 12 miles from Elizabeth, New Jersey. The city of Plainfield has a population of approximately 47,000 and has in excess of 2,000,000 New Jersey residents living within a 20-mile radius.
The centralized location of the city offers the advantage of an easy commute to the proposed facility from throughout the Metropolitan region as well as from points south and west. The City enjoys access from such major highways as Routes 22, I-287, and I-78. Interstate 287, a main artery connecting the New Jersey Turnpike with the New York Thruway, passes through South Plainfield five miles south of the downtown Plainfield site and three miles from the western Plainfield site . I-287 links Plainfield with both the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.
Interstate 78 lies two miles north of Plainfield and provides direct access to Northern New Jersey/New York City and western New Jersey. U.S Route 22, a major commercial strip, passes through North Plainfield and provides direct access to the City's central business district and the Museum sites.
The city also benefits from a well developed mass transit system that includes both rail and bus service provided by New Jersey Transit. The City is served by the Raritan Valley line, originally the historic Central New Jersey Line (CNJ) , which provides daily service between Newark/Hoboken and High Bridge, New Jersey. Both Newark and Hoboken have connections to New York City. The Raritan Valley Line stops at both the Netherwood and North Avenue Stations in Plainfield and at the Dunellen Station less than a mile from the proposed western Plainfield museum site. It is significant to note that both Plainfield station buildings are on the Federal and State Registry of Historic Places. Netherwood Station was recently renovated by NJ Transit; the downtown Plainfield Station will receive similar treatment, including the development of a new plaza, in 1998, with expenditures estimated in excess of $1 million. Additionally, the former CNJ corridor will soon undergo an historic corridor analysis by NJ Transit.
Local and express buses service Plainfield from Newark and New York City. These include NJ Transit bus lines 59, 113 and 114. They operate on avenues fronting each of the two proposed museum sites or on immediately adjacent streets . These services terminate in communities to the west of Plainfield and provide travel opportunities to and from the Museum to a number of communities along their respective routes.
Perhaps one of the most compelling strengths of the City as a suitable location for the museum site is its historic relationship with the railroad. A railroad and transportation museum can be developed within an historic theme taking advantage of the rich history of the "Queen City" and the significant role the railroad played in the development of Plainfield from a rural to urban center. Highlights of the city's history follow.
HISTORIC QUALITIES OF "THE QUEEN CITY"
Rural Settlement and Mill village: 1680-1869.
The origins of European settlement in Plainfield date from the 1680's when a number of Scots from Perth Amboy, the entry port of Scottish settlement in New Jersey, established "out plantations" along the Cedar Brook. Quakers (English as well as Scots) began settling in the area during the early 18th century and a Quaker meeting was formed by 1736. Early land holdings were large tracts of several hundred acres or more. Throughout the 18th century population was sparse (numbering less than one hundred in 1770), and settlement was dispersed. Linear settlement occurred along what is now Front Street, an old east-west route which ran along the south bank of the Green Brook. In colonial times, this was the "York Road," connecting New York and York, Pennsylvania. The Green Brook also provided the water power for milling, which was to become a major economic activity and focal point of the settlement by the end of the 18th century. The first grist mill was built by John Webster on the upper mill pond between 1750 and 1760, and was moved about 1790 to a location near present-day Somerset and Front Streets. A second mill was erected downstream, near Sycamore Avenue, about 1764.
In the early 19th century the older mill developed into a sizeable complex including a saw mill, grist and flour mill, cider mill, and distillery. With the mill as its central feature, a growing village of dwellings, artisan's shops and stores clustered along Front Street between Madison Avenue and Watchung Avenue. Watchung Avenue, an early north-south route was then known as Peace Street for its associations with the Quaker Meetinghouse. The street itself followed a route through the Watchung mountains to the highlands to the north which had been used by the Lenape Indians since about 900 AD. For an unknown time the settlement was known as "Mill-town," but was named Plainfield in the early 19th century. Between 1800 and 1835 population increased tenfold to 1,030. The village was surveyed and divided into building lots; stage lines ran regularly through town, and the first railroad, the Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad, organized in 1831, completed tracks through Plainfield in 1837.
Hat and clothing manufacturing became mainstays of the town economy, in addition to the mill and shop trade which serviced the surrounding farms. While Front Street continued to be the major axis, town growth spread south on a rectangular grid street layout. By mid-century, building and population (excluding related development north of the Green Brook, in what is now North Plainfield) was concentrated in the area by Plainfield Avenue on the west, Sixth Street on the east, and Roosevelt Avenue on the north. The rest of the town was predominantly agricultural.
From the 1840s, Plainfield gained a reputation as a summering place for New York gentry because the air was considered healthier than that of the crowded metropolis, where "summer fever" was endemic. The 185Os and 1860s saw the appearance of stylish "country seats" on the landscape, a sign of impending social and economic change.
Victorian Railroad Suburb: 1869-1900.
Plainfield was incorporated as a City in 1869, shortly after the rail connection through to New York City was completed. With the possibility, now, of commuting to work in New York, Plainfield was transformed. Within fifteen years, it had grown from a rural village into a fashionable commuter suburb of 12,000 inhabitants. Plainfield's accessiblilty to New York City and the "Queen City's" pastoral attractions - in combination with the post-Civil War rise of business fortunes, the growth of an affluent middle class, and changing values about a desirable domestic environment - all produced this momentous change. A wave of land development and building activity hit Plainfield in the 1870's and the 1880's. A leading developer and promoter of Plainfield was Job Male, who had immigrated from his native Scotland and gone to work at the age of nine as a toll collector on a bridge over the Passaic River. An entrepreneurial type in the age of the Robber Barons, Male made his fortune in building the Jersey City waterfront railyards.
Job Male, Ivan Jones and others purchased large tracts of open land, laid out blocks and lots, and erected substantial dwellings from pattern book designs of the period. The Crescent Avenue area, one of the city's designated Historic Districts, for example, was developed in this manner. For the most part, however, development proceeded incrementally, on an individual lot basis or by blocks. Denser residential growth occurred in and near the Crescent Area. Larger lots and setbacks, as well as a number of sizeable "country estates," characterized residential development along several major streets which cross the City (such as Seventh and Eighth Streets, Front Street, Central Avenue, Hillside Avenue, Grant Avenue, and Watchung Avenue). Also during the 1870's the Belvedere Land and Improvement Company laid out a section of curvilinear roadways, based on Romantic planning ideas, in the hills of the Netherwood Heights area, now another of Plainfield's intriguing Historic Districts. By 1878, several mansions and the Netherwood Hotel, designed as a luxurious summer resort for New Yorkers, had been built.
The scale, architectural character, and function of the central business district changed as well during the latter 19th century. Downtown streets, which had been lined with low rise shops and stores of predominantly frame construction mixed with residential units, were redeveloped with larger brick commercial structures. An important concentration of these late 19th century commercial buildings remains in the North Avenue Historic District.
Civic boosters of the late 19th century proclaimed Plainfield as a `City of Homes," the domain of prominent businessmen and millionaires, and boasted of its "elegant residence property" and broad paved avenues "under continuous archways of maples and elms."
Notwithstanding this affluence, an overlooked important aspect of Plainfield's development from 1869 to 1900 is that the City had much more socioeconomic diversity than its historical image as an elite suburb presupposes. Construction work, the demand for domestic servants, and most importantly, the emerging large-scale industry along the railroad corridor, were significant sources of new working class employment in the City. Thus the size of Plainfield's working class population-including Irish, Italians, African-Americans, and other ethnic groups-also rose during this period. Neighborhoods of workers' housing—mostly simple detached dwellings—developed proximal to the entire railroad corridor and infilled the older village section of the City. St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, mother parish to the area, was founded in the early 1850s to serve the Irish immigrants who found work in the area, many of whom helped build the Central Jersey rail lines. The Church is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, and recently received a $250,000 restoration grant from the NJ Historic Trust.
Suburb to City: 1900-1935.
During the first three decades of the 20th century, Plainfield evolved from an outlying suburb to a regional hub of population, trade, and industry, a change that was tied to growth patterns of central New Jersey as a whole. First, Plainfield's central business district expanded to its present day scale and land area. Industrial development along the railroad corridor also expanded; a large Mack Truck plant on the west end became a major employer and Plainfield became a regional center for automobile sales, service and parts. While local jobs in business and professions increased as well, businessmen continued to commute by rail to workplaces in New York City.
Much of the residential development of the early 2Oth century equaled the scale and grandeur of Victorian era building in the City. Despite the continuation of mansion building, the number of upper-income residences declined in proportion to the moderately-priced housing constructed throughout the City. Until the second decade of the 20th century there was still substantial farmland and open space on the north, east, and south ends of the City. During the 1920's and 1930's,however, most of the remaining farm properties and many of the large 19th century country estates were subdivided for residential housing developments. Subdivision plats, filed with the City, varied in size but seldom deviated from the established rectangular grid layout (the Netherwood Heights area being the notable exception).
Population and economic growth continued to thrive through the early 2Oth century as Plainfield became more developed as a commercial, manufacturing and cultural center of central New Jersey. In 1925, Plainfield was considered a residential city but the value of the manufactured products of the City's fifty-seven industries was over $18 million. As anti-immigrant sentiment slowed down European immigration during this period, African-Americans became the new labor resource,arriving in Plainfield mainly from the rural south. By 1932, the African-American population in Plainfield had reached 10% and outnumbered foreign-born residents.By the 1930's, Plainfield had become a suburban city with a greater density and a more urban character and physical form.
As a result of its historic qualities and great citizen effort beginning in the 1970s, the City has designated eight historic districts (Van Wyck Brooks, Crescent Avenue, Hillside Avenue, Netherwood Heights, Broadway, Watchung-Putnam, North Avenue--which is a Victorian commercial block, and the putative St. Mary's District--a neighborhood of working-class homes) and has numerous landmarks worthy of historic preservation efforts. The city has an extremely active Historic Preservation Commission and enjoys Certified Local Government Status as conferred upon it by the State and Federal government.
AVAILABILITY OF A SUITABLE SITE
The City of Plainfield is a fully developed community and has the infrastructure, capacity and commitment to service a museum site. As such, the City of Plainfield is prepared to propose two locations, two miles apart within the City that are ideally suited to the needs of the Commission. These sites satisfy the site selection criteria of the Commission and offer an excellent opportunity not only to promote a railroad museum but to also act as a catalyst for economic development activity in conjunction with other city programs.
CITY OF PLAINFIELD PROPOSAL
In the original 1995 proposal, the city suggested a phased Museum development using the existing Queen City rail yard in the 500 Block of North Avenue, at the corner of Richmond Street, and property located on the opposite side of the rail right of way, along South Avenue. We suggest that this locale, which is characterized by historic railroad buildings and available open space, would be a suitable site for the proposed Heritage Center portion of the museum experience, with outdoor exhibits during the warm months.
At the end of November 1997, an additional site became available for consideration. This approximately 8-acre improved property, currently occupied by the National Starch Company, is located in the 1700 block of West Front Street, just west of Rock Avenue. Because of the size and physical features of the existing industrial structures, this site would make an ideal location for the museum exhibit areas, archives, storage and equipment restoration/maintenance shop. Since both sites are situated on the Raritan Valley right of way a bifurcated museum development plan serviced by rail shuttles could be evaluated. Two very successful rail museums, the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento and the Long Island Rail Road Museum in Riverhead and Greenport have two sites linked by rail shuttles.
North Avenue Site: The city proposes the abandoned New Jersey Transit rail yard located at 500 North Avenue (Tax Block 301) as an appropriate initial site for the storage of the state's rolling stock as well as for future development of a portion of the railroad and transportation museum. The site is 7.5 acres and is owned by New Jersey Transit. The site was formerly an active rail yard for NJ Transit. It is presently not utilized by Transit; however, the railroad tracks are still in place. There is presently an existing 6,000 square foot historic rail freight transfer building that can be adapted to a variety of museum related purposes, including an auditorium/visitor center. There is an additional 2 acre site that adjoins the property directly to the east. This parcel is identified as Block 302, Lot 1, street address 608 North Avenue and is owned by Mr.Donald Finley. This site provides a 20-30,000 square foot building and existing rail lines that are in place. The site is presently utilized by a contracting business. The North Avenue site is particularly suited for a rail and transportation heritage center experience and offers numerous advantages for this purpose. The tract provides more than sufficient land area to accommodate the initial space needs of a facility. Existing buildings on-site can be readily adapted to museum purposes.
Existing railroad lines are in place with spur connections to the adjoining main line to immediately accommodate the rolling stock In addition to being located directly on an existing rail line, the site is also strategically located between the historic North Avenue and Netherwood railroad stations. Development of the site as a railroad and transportation museum is compatible with the existing industrial development that characterizes the area. The use of the site for this purpose is also consistent with the City's present planning documents which call for intensive industrial, commercial and warehouse development. Consequently, the development of a rail facility at this location would not pose any land use policy conflicts. On the contrary, the development of this site for a rail and transportation museum and maintenance yard is entirely consistent with and would promote the City's land use and economic development policies affecting this site.
Potential Site Expansion - Phase l & II.
The North Avenue Site is proposed as the First Phase of the Heritage Museum. There is a 3-acre tract immediately to the East with an historic silo which could be acquired quickly as an extension to Phase I. Because three years has elapsed since the original proposals were submitted to the Commission, some of the early details are no longer feasible. For instance, the Nelinson mansion, which had been considered as appropriate for the archives (it is approximately one mile from the North Avenue site) is not currently available for consideration. It also does not seem feasible to talk of displacing active manufacturing operations on the South Avenue side of the Raritan Valley Line in light of the availability of the National Starch option.
Additionally, the outbound NJ Transit station in the North Avenue Historic District, which had been thought of as a potential replacement for the Nelinson mansion for archives, is expected to be demolished within a year as NJ Transit completes its ADA upgrades with respect to the Plainfield main station area. The building is expected to be replaced with a much smaller structure, housing only an elevator, and the area turned into a plaza to complement the Victorian storefront neighborhood.
The National Starch Property
The National Starch property, located approximately two miles from the North Avenue site along the Raritan Valley line, which only became available for consideration in late November, 1997, offers unique and compelling for a world-class Heritage Museum. A summary follows:
1. An existing multi-building facility in excellent physical condition
2. Approx. 125,000 sq. ft. of usable interior space
3. Approx. 75,000 sq. ft. in potential exhibit halls and storage
4. A 21,000+ sq. ft. building for restoration shop; secure, sprinklered, heat, showers, parking, easily adapted for rail access
5. Approx. 4 acres for parking
6. State-of-the-art security—cameras, lighting, enclosures
7. National Starch resolves any/all environmental issues
8. All buildings sprinklered
9. A rail line the length of the property offering boxcar height access to the complex
10. A large abandoned siding adjacent to the factory, ramping up to the Raritan Valley line, capable of being fenced in
1. Raritan Valley line stations at both Plainfield and Dunellen
2. Proposed light rail line to end at Rock Avenue; extension to Museum site being sought
3. New York buses stop at the door
4. Three miles from I-287 exit
5. Site easily adaptable for ADA access requirements
1. A short excursion can be developed to Bound Brook, offering a canal experience at an existing state facility, the Delaware & Raritan Canal
2. A short excursion on vintage buses can be made to Washington Rock State Park, less than 3 miles away, providing a sweeping vista from the World Trade Center to Princeton
3. Over-the-street trolley experience can be developed to link Plainfield's locations
4. Horse-drawn carriages can tour Plainfield and North Plainfield's historic districts from the Queen City yard and the Netherwood Station
5. Hoboken-Port Jervis excursions can be expanded, offering the addition of a Plainfield-to-Hoboken leg to these important fund- and friend-raising activities
6. Opening of the Bound Brook-West Trenton line will provide additional excursion opportunities
A Developer Prepared to Make Capital Improvements.
Mr. Mike Rubenstein, president of Johnson Machinery Company, Inc., of Bloomfield, the buyer of the property, has expressed willingness to consider making improvements to the property necessary to outfit it as a Heritage Museum and to discuss holding a long-term lease with an option to buy, if the State or a sufficient entity would become the lessee. This should certainly be an avenue worth exploring , as it would reduce the outlay to get up and running to virtually nil as compared to acquiring a site and building on it. This also means that a restoration shop could be available to get rolling stock out of the elements and into a secure environment within approximately 60-90 days of reaching an agreement. It will be very easy to run rails up a ramp from the existing siding to the proposed restoration shop and to have room for at least 15-20 pieces of equipment in the shop at a time.
This is a golden opportunity. Mr. Rubenstein is also interested in how developing this complex as a museum site could help other museum development efforts in central New Jersey—especially a Revolutionary War museum proposed for South Bound Brook, a children's museum for Somerset County and the enhanced marketing of the Duke Gardens now that Miss Duke's estate has been settled and the Foundation is independent.
LINKAGES WITH OTHER AREA CULTURAL FEATURES
The City of Plainfield and nearby towns and counties have an array of cultural resources to provide a range of visitor experiences for all ages and interests. Plainfield itself has seven designated residential historic districts and a commercial area prized for their unique architecture. Best known for its fine Victorian residences, Plainfield is also home to 17th century and Colonial Revival buildings. Annual house tours are conducted in many of these neighborhoods. In addition, Plainfield showcases unique landmarked buildings such as the Friends Quaker Meeting House and burial ground(1788), The Drake House Museum (1746), Cedar Brook Farm (1717) and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church (1875). Both St.Mary's Church and the Friends Meeting House have recently received capital improvement grants from the the state's Historic Preservation Office to maintain their presence and importance in the community.
Always a cultural center, Plainfield has the oldest community symphony orchestra in the state, the Plainfield Symphony, which is also tied for the oldest in the United States. Arioso Chamber Music, The Plainfield Girlchoir, Ars Musica Antiqua, the Ric-Charles Choral Ensemble, Satin Strings, repertory theater and special programs and concerts such as the Ballet Folklorico "Sentir Criollo," appear on Plainfield's cultural calendar. The Plainfield Summer Outdoor Arts Festival, a juried outdoor exhibit now in its 35th year, attracts visitors from the tri-state area. The Fourth of July Parade, which is operated jointed by several communities under Plainfield's leadership, is one of the last of the really big patriotic parades in the state, with turnouts on the 3-mile route estimated at 75,000. The Plainfield Public Library, situated on land donated by Job Male, owns two watercolors by Winslow Homer and two Albert Bierstadt paintings are displayed in the Municipal Court. Act IV Theater, the Philathalians Theatre Group, and PRISM Theater Company, as well as the Edison Valley Playhouse, add to cultural attractions as does the Shakespeare Garden in Cedarbrook Park.
In adjacent or nearby towns there are many more historic and landmarked sites, buildings and museums with special draw such as the Stage House Inn and Antique Village and the Cannonball House Museum in Scotch Plains, the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park in South Bound Brook -- an area also contemplating establishing a Revolutionary War Museum-- and the Watchung Reservation, Surprise Lake, Deserted Village and Trailside Museum and Planetarium in Watchung, as well as Washington Rock State Park located in the same community.
Within a thirty minute drive or less is Bowcraft Amusement Park; the Johnson Park Historic Village and Zoo; Duke Gardens and Summit Arboretums; Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Outdoor Education Center; Northlandz Model Railroad Exhibit and Museum, George Street Playhouse and so on. In less than 45 minutes driving distance is the Liberty Science Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Newark Museum. A more complete listing of other historic, cultural and recreational features is contained in the appendix.
There are clear benefits to both the Commission, the City of Plainfield and environs in establishing the City as the location for the proposed Railroad and Transportation Heritage Museum.
The City of Plainfield offers the Commission an opportunity to develop a Railroad and Transportation Heritage Museum in a centralized location easily accessible by road and transit to several million New Jersey and New York metropolitan area residents.
Plainfield can satisfy many of the additional criteria defined by the Commission such as minimum acreage; compatible zoning; municipal concurrence and support; existing suitable structures for all defined uses; no exposure to 100 year flood plains, or salt air, low potential for storm damage and the existence and draw of other area tourist attractions. Plainfield also has a transportation history of note. The sites can be publicly acquired and protected from vandalism; the National Starch site currently is equipped with a state-of-the-art security system. The sites will be cleaned of any hazardous materials that may exist before title transfer.
Plainfield can serve the entire metropolitan region ensuring a significant market and guaranteeing the success of this endeavor. The locations identified by the City also provide the Commission with a cost- effective solution in the development of a suitable facility. These sites are readily adaptable and particularly suited to museum and rail use.
It is important to note that the infrastructure, including buildings and railroad track are in place and can be immediately used for the Commission's critical need to store the existing rolling stock and archives in one centralized location. This is especially true of the National Starch site; the corporation will be ceasing operations in the Spring of 1998.The buyer of this property has expressed a willingness to make necessary improvements to outfit the site as a museum while holding a long-term lease, with an option to buy, with the State or sufficient entity. The other proposed sites can be further developed and expanded in the near future into a full Railroad and Transportation Heritage Museum complex.
There are also significant advantages to the City of Plainfield resulting from the development of a museum facility. Increased tourism will add needed economic activity necessary to revitalize the City's economy. The unique and novel attraction posed by the Railroad and Transportation Heritage Museum will enable the City to showcase its other unique historic qualities and will serve to attract other commercial activities into the area. This will significantly help to strengthen the City's Central Business District and surrounding commercial districts.
It is further anticipated that the development of a railroad and transportation facility will add temporary and permanent employment opportunities for the residents of Plainfield and the region.
Upon disclosure of the full scope and needs of this museum project, the City of Plainfield is prepared to work with the Commission and to provide the support vital to the construction and operation of the museum.
The City of Plainfield can assure the Commission of its commitment to offer responsive security and traffic control services through the Plainfield Police Division as well as infrastructure/street service through the Department of Public Works and Urban Development.Likewise, the City can assure the Commission that all permit, board review and approval processes will be handled in an expeditious manner.
The City stands ready to expedite any property acquisition actions necessary to bring the Museum's presence in Plainfield to fruition. The City will also commit a substantial sum of money from the community trust fund as an indication of a strong commitment to the project. The City will assist the Commission in obtaining funding and other resources from Federal, State, County and private sources to ensure the timely construction of the museum.
The location of the museum in the city's east and west ends will be complemented by several programs already in place or in the design phase. For example, the city of Plainfield is currently collaborating with New Jersey Transit on the renovation of the historic Downtown Plainfield train station and grounds after having recently completed a similar partnering for the Netherwood Station rehabilitation.The City is supporting the companion redesign of South Avenue—the South Avenue Streetscape Project—as designed by the Project for Public Spaces. Both of these projects will serve as a lead to further commercial development along the South Avenue business corridor.
Additionally, the proposed museum sites are located in the City's State-Certified Urban Enterprise Zone. As a result, the museum would be the beneficiary of increased levels of public works and police services. Furthermore, retail items sold at the museum would be subject to reduced sales tax of 3% (half the state's 6% sales tax rate).
URBAN ENTERPRISE ZONE STATUS
A part of the city's Economic Development effort, Plainfield was designated as an Urban Enterprise Zone in June of 1985. This designation applies to over twenty (20) percent of the entire City's land area and includes the east and west industrial corridors as well as the Central Business District. Nearly 100% of all the City's industrial and commercial businesses are located within the Zone. Certified businesses are eligible for a variety of tax incentives for a period of twenty years and consumers may purchase goods and services at a reduced 3% Sales Tax rate (half the state's sales tax rate). Consequently, business growth resulting from a museum would benefit from the City's UEZ status.*