Advisory Services Panel — Downtown Bound Brook, New Jersey

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Date: March 19-24, 2000
Location: Bound Brook, New Jersey
Chair: Smedes York
Subject Area: Disaster Recovery, Economic Development, Sustainable Development

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The Assignment
In September 1999, Hurricane Floyd swept up the eastern seaboard of the United tates causing coastal erosion, wind damage, and severe flooding in many cities and towns, requiring one of the largest evacuation efforts ever in the United States. Bound Brook, a community of approximately 10,000 people in central New Jersey, was one of the communities severely damaged by the flooding from Hurricane Floyd.

During its history, several floods have affected the area, but the citizens and leaders of Bound Brook have viewed these disasters as opportunities to make the town a better place. Somerset County (of which Bound Brook is a part) approached the Urban Land Institute (ULI) about the possibility of having an Advisory Services Panel come to Bound Brook to help the borough devise a strategy for redeveloping its downtown. The borough had approved a preliminary redevelopment plan, and the panel considered the plan as it developed its findings and recommendations.

Summary
The key points of the panel’s recommendations to Bound Brook are as follows:

  • Move forward with flood control project proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Effective rebuilding and rehabilitation depend on this project. Without it, too much uncertainty exists and major new investment will not occur. In addition to providing flood control, the project should be made an attractive amenity.
  • Enhance citizen involvement in the process, with maximum input from citizens at each step. To be successful, the process needs to be open. Public participation and support are essential.
  • The Bound Brook Borough Council should employ an outside entity to guide the redevelopment process. A separate redevelopment board with diverse representation should be appointed. This approach will ensure a better interface between the developers and the community.
  • Simplify redevelopment plan into three major objectives: rehabilitating and restoring Historic Bound Brook Village Center; preserving and restoring the Old Town Preservation Neighborhood; and developing a commercial tax base, primarily in the West Gateway District.
  • Selecting the Advance Group as the preferred developer because of its strong interest in Bound Brook’s revitalization is a positive step. The group’s background, coupled with the work of its advisers, should lead to high-quality projects. As redevelopment proceeds to specialized projects, the panel believes that separate requests for proposals (RFPs) would be appropriate to allow other qualified companies to be involved.
  • The existing location for the rail station should be retained and its condition upgraded. This location is strategic, and ensuing development will enhance Historic Bound Brook Village Center.
  • Bound Brook needs to increase its efforts to work within the region, especially with neighboring communities.

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