DCA Announces Addition of Four New Communities to the Main Street New Jersey Program

  • Posted on: 09/30/2021

Bernardsville, Fair Lawn, Maplewood, and Toms River Can Now Access Training and Support for Revitalization of Their Downtown Business Districts

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today announced the designation of four new communities to the Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) Program, an initiative aimed at encouraging and supporting the revitalization of downtown business districts throughout the state. With the designation, downtown districts in Bernardsville, Fair Lawn, Maplewood, and Toms River can now receive technical assistance and training in how to restore their main streets as centers of community and economic activity. 

This is the first time in six years that the MSNJ Program has added new communities to its roster. There are now 23 communities participating in the program, including the newly designated communities announced today.

“Our Main Street New Jersey Program has shown that when a community participates in a comprehensive revitalization effort, its downtown can experience a return of economic vitality,” said Lt. Governor Shelia Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “We welcome these newly designated communities into the program and look forward to helping them take full advantage of all the resources and training that is now available to strengthen their downtowns and create a positive image of their business district.”

Since it was established in 1989, the MSNJ Program has brought significant numbers of new businesses and jobs to the downtown districts participating in the program. In addition, façade improvements and building rehabilitation projects have upgraded the image of downtown business districts across the state.

The MSNJ Program is a Coordinating Program of Main Street America™, which is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Main Street America approach is to help downtown districts develop a transformation strategy around four main points – economic vitality, design, promotion, and organization – that is unique to their community and based on local and regional market data.

Designated MSNJ communities receive an array of services, including customized design assistance, access to state and national specialists, training on key downtown issues, and ongoing marketing and promotions support. They can also receive grant funding for small business support and neighborhood improvement projects.

Here is an introduction to the newly designated MSNJ districts:

Downtown Bernardsville, Inc.

Downtown Bernardsville is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing, enhancing, and promoting the commercial district of Bernardsville, Somerset County. Its focus is on engaging the community through local events, supporting local businesses, and maintaining the charm of Bernardsville’s historical structures.

“Everything about the Main Street New Jersey Program seemed to be a perfect fit for revitalizing Bernardsville. The people here are so passionate about their town that it just made sense,” said Olivia Manning, Executive Director, Downtown Bernardsville. “We look forward to growing and now having Main Street New Jersey along for the ride with us.” 

"It is extremely rewarding to see our residents, businesses and elected officials all working together to bring new energy to our downtown. And now as a Main Street town, Bernardsville is sure to achieve a successful future," said Bernardsville Mayor Mary Jane Canose. 

Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation

The Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is a public/private partnership bringing together commercial property owners, business operators, residents, and organized business districts in Fair Lawn, Bergen County. Its mission is to advocate, facilitate, and coordinate the strengthening of Fair Lawn’s economic and commercial vitality.

“During the pandemic, Fair Lawn had more businesses open than close and expanded pedestrian calming measures and outdoor eating. Becoming a Main Street community allows us to continue this success and provide more tools and resources for our business community,” said Fair Lawn Mayor Kurt Peluso.

“In many ways, the Main Street New Jersey Program found us (and we found it) at the perfect time. If I had to find one silver lining from the disaster that was COVID-19, I would say that Fair Lawn got the opportunity to step up and it took that opportunity in stride,” said Abigail Katznelson, President of the Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation. “We are both humbled and excited to have the support and resources of Main Street New Jersey to continue pushing forward on our journey to revitalize and nourish Fair Lawn’s growing downtown district!”

  Springfield Avenue Partnership (Maplewood) 

The Springfield Avenue Partnership is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that is committed to creating a stable, diverse, and friendly commercial district along Springfield Avenue in Maplewood, Essex County. It promotes local businesses, works to attract new businesses, and performs such services such as cleaning sidewalks, maintaining an online business directory and database of available commercial space, and assisting with façade renovation projects.

“Over the years, both public and private investment have built up Springfield Avenue, remaking it from a county thoroughfare to a neighborhood business corridor. For this community effort, Springfield Avenue and the Springfield Avenue Partnership are honored to receive the Main Street New Jersey designation,” said Nicole Wallace, Executive Director of the Springfield Avenue Partnership. “In the coming year, the Partnership aims to invest in placemaking and wayfinding, and to increase the number and diversity of events.”

“Springfield Avenue is a cornerstone of Maplewood and as a municipality we are always looking for ways to enhance our business district.  Being named a new Main Street New Jersey district provides the opportunity for our bustling area of commerce to strengthen its live, work, play, and learn environment and add tasteful signage, which will enhance the dining and shopping experience of patrons and residents throughout New Jersey. Thank you for this honor,” said Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee. 

Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District 

Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and implementing the economic revitalization of the Downtown Toms River business district. Its mission is to preserve the district’s cultural, historic, tourist and civic interests, while accessing public and private resources to improve business success and property values.

“The Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District applied for Main Street New Jersey designation because of the positive, cost-effective community revitalization benefits it will have on our business district. We look forward in collaborating with DCA and Main Street New Jersey to support our small business community and enrich our vibrant district,” said Mairin Bellack, Executive Director of Downtown Toms River BID.

“Toms River is excited to become Main Street New Jersey designated and continue its efforts with the revitalization of our downtown corridor while preserving our historic resources. We look forward to working with DCA, Main Street New Jersey, and The Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District,” said Toms River Mayor Maurice “Mo” B. Hill Jr.

In order to apply for Main Street New Jersey designation, communities had to meet the following basic requirements:

  • One identifiable downtown or main street;
  • Historic buildings and character;
  • Walkable scale and pedestrian-oriented district;
  • Predominance of mixed-use buidings;
  • Commitment to revitalization through financial, people, and policy resources; and
  • Commitment to employ a full-time executive director with an adequate program operating budget for a minimum of four years if the community has a population over 20,000.

For more information on MSNJ, visit https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/lps/msnj.html#1.

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including energy assistance, housing vouchers, affordable housing production, fire and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery and mitigation.

For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media:



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