By Elise Schoening
Every week, Features Editor Elise Schoening hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.
As students return to campus this week, they will be pleasantly surprised to find that Campus Town is finally starting to live up to its name. The Italian restaurant, Piccolo Pronto, opened its doors for business on Friday, Jan. 22 and Panera is slated to open next month. It has taken almost six years for the Campus Town Project to come together. The project plans were first unveiled to the college community back in March 2010.
Curt Heuring, vice president for Facilities Management, Construction and Campus Safety gave a preliminary presentation to the Student Government Association (SGA) on Dec. 2, 2009 regarding the progress of a longtime College initiative: The Campus Town Project (CTP).
According to the College’s Web site, the town will potentially include restaurants, retail stores, a book store and a health club on Pennington Road owned by the College.
“No one else has seen what I’m about to show you,” an excited Heuring told the SGA general body. “The College has been thinking about the CTP long before I came here (in 2006).”
After state legislators passed the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act in July 2009, higher education institutions like the College secured an 18-month window to create a feasibility study and architectural blueprint for an on-campus extension project built in conjunction with funds provided by a private property development company.
“The New Jersey Higher Education Partnership Act allows the College to partner with private developers to fund the building of College facilities, retail housing, and anything that addresses College needs,” Heuring said. “This law allows us to build a Campus Town.”
In fall 2007, the College entered into a preliminary discussion with a property site on Carlton Avenue, but found that because of wetlands in the area, the grounds were unstable and therefore focus shifted to the land the College owns on Pennington Road. The law prohibits encroachment upon privately owned property surrounding the development parameters.
“There is a need here for retail restaurants and everything else,” Heuring said. “Since we don’t own both sides of the street, we have created a new small scale urban center street between Nestor Street and Pennington Road for retail and three to four story buildings with housing.”
“The CTP is consistent with support of the President’s commitment to green development and creating an environment where people can walk (to retail),” Heuring said of the College’s environment promise. “It’s a good thing for campus’s carbon footprint.”