The Borough of Raritan recently completed a year-long community-driven study that aims to increase the economic vitality of its downtown and better connect Somerset Street to the train station and riverfront.
This Sustainable Economic Development Plan that was created through the NJTPA’s Planning for Emerging Centers Program. The competitive program provides technical assistance to communities to create more sustainable, transit-supportive and walkable communities.
The recently completed Raritan studyused extensive community outreach to develop a 10-year vision for the downtown’s future. In addition to the plan, the effort also suggested a regulatory framework to make the vision a reality and an implementation toolbox to provide Raritan with specific recommendations it can act on.
Residents who participated in outreach activities said they wanted an active and attractive downtown that better connects Somerset Street to a vibrant riverfront destination. They envisioned the riverfront area with a completed Raritan River Greenway and high-quality recreation spaces. Pedestrian and bicycle safety were top concerns and there was also a desire to provide more travel options.
The plan recommends revitalizing underutilized spaces and adding amenities, such as landscaping, public art and outdoor dining. It suggested mixed-use developments that could support existing restaurants or accommodate new ones and modern retail spaces at ground level with housing above. The Vision Plan also suggests installing bike lanes to connect the riverfront to the downtown and residential neighborhoods.
The borough created a working group to guide the study, and the implementation guide calls for continuing that group to keep the various stakeholders — local and county officials, residents, businesses and others — engaged in making the plan a reality. While the Implementation Toolkit was developed with Raritan in mind, other municipalities facing similar challenges could benefit from some of its recommended strategies.
For additional information visit the Raritan Sustainable Economic Development Plan page
to view the Vision Plan and Implementation Toolkit.