ELIZABETH, NJ-This city of 125,000 people is set for a new round of redevelopment in the wake of its designation by the state, this morning, as a transit village. The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s transit village program focuses of fostering commercial and residential development around the state’s transportation hubs.

With nearly 10,000 people moving through this city’s midtown train station on a daily basis, it’s one of the state’s busiest. The transit village designation brings with it eligibility for a variety of state grants, beginning with an initial grant of $100,000 for planning purposes. Other benefits include planning assistance and a streamlined approval process. This city is the 18th to win transit village designation from the state.

“The transit village initiative enable the New Jersey DOT to invest in our quality of life by reducing congestion, increasing mass transit use and building more economically viable and pedestrian-friendly town centers,” says NJDOT commissioner Kris Kolluri.

Officials say the designation will help jumpstart redevelopment of the city’s midtown area. According to a spokesman for the department of planning and community development, general plans being drawn up include more than 700 new residential units and 70,000 sf of commercial space around the train station, which serves as a hub for both NJ Transit and Amtrak service. The spokesman also says that the city will most likely tap into the private developer community for additional ideas for the redevelopment.

A focal point will be the renovated pedestrian plaza fronting the train station. “Our vision for this location was to create a meeting place, as well as a cultural hub for residents and travelers alike,” the spokesman says, noting that the plaza includes coliseum-style seating for performing arts presentations.

“In recent years, Elizabeth has experienced a renaissance through economic development, new market-rate and affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization,” says Mayor Chris Bollwage. “The transit village designation will complement and contribute to the city’s ongoing efforts to renew its Midtown area.”

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