In Contemporary Urban Planning, John Levy introduces economic development as particularly of interest to communities at the local level, although it comes with its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, new development comes with employment opportunities as well as increased tax revenue. On the negative side, the population growth that is inevitable with an influx of employment opportunities comes with increased expenses for schools, social services and dealing with more traffic flow (Levy 268). In terms of redevelopment, “one is more likely to find municipalities and their economic development agencies pursuing retailing, business and personal services, office, recreation, and other categories where there is significant employment growth”(Levy 270). For the city of New Brunswick, DEVCO is the agency responsible for its revitalization. Since it’s origins in the mid 1970’s, DEVCO has overseen about 1.6 billion dollars worth of investment in the city, one of the more recent projects in progress being the Hub @ New Brunswick Station. It is located where Ferren Mall once was across the street from the NJ Transit New Brunswick Train Station and next to the Robert Wood Johnson Fitness and Wellness Plaza.
Ferren Mall located on Paterson Street in downtown New Brunswick
Model of the Hub @ New Brunswick Train Station by DEVCO
The Hub has 1.7 million square feet of mixed use space available for retailers. Downtown New Brunswick is highly urban, meaning it is walkable and transit oriented. The close proximity of the Hub to hotels, residences, restaurants and nightlife as well as the train and bus makes it a prime location for business. It will provide several employment opportunities to not just Rutgers students, but citizens of the city. The increased foot and vehicular traffic that will result in the popularity of this space will bring life to the surrounding areas also. Now people that live in and around New Brunswick will be able to go grocery shopping or to the gym at the Wellness Plaza and well as get shopping done at the Hub or go into the city with ease. Revenue that comes in from these large complexes is beneficial to the municipality in the long run.As the city modernizes and becomes more aesthetically pleasing, the less people see it as just Rutgers University and more like an all in one space to spend their money and time.
While benefits to the town are evident, there are also a plethora of issues that come with major redevelopment. The increased popularity of a space always brings a influx of newcomers. These new people looking for residences and employment opportunities bring competition for current residents of New Brunswick. There is also competition for existing business, such as restaurants and stores on Easton Ave and George Street. While it is in the best interest of the town to engage in revitalization, there are positive and negative aspects that must always be considered.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.