Downtown Vineland: Moving On Up

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swansonDowntown Vineland


By Russell Swanson, Exec. Director, VDID / Main Street Vineland


A Columnist for the Grapevine Newspaper


 
More downtowns are embracing upper-floor housing.
One of the major takeaways from the recent National Main Streets Conference is the increasing trend toward second- and third-floor housing—above first-floor businesses.
A time existed when the concept of housing above downtown stores didn’t find favor with some community leaders. They thought that it would bring additional traffic and parking congestion to downtowns that were already suffering from parking problems. Another claim was that the poor upkeep of some of the apartments and low rents didn’t reflect well on efforts to revitalize downtowns.
The tide, however, has turned. As millennials, as well as Gen X and Gen Y folks, have staked more of a claim in our downtowns and more communities are looking to attract these age groups, downtown housing, as well as nearby housing developments for them, are becoming more of a trend. This housing must be of a quality to make these communities attractive to people looking for good white-collar jobs.
With this trend, comes notice to property owners to upgrade their housing units to make them attractive to these new prospects. It also is a strong incentive for us to use whatever means possible—partnerships, grants, and other means—to help fund this development of upper-floor housing.
Let’s look at some statistics from one of the National Main Streets Conference workshops that bear out the axiom that retail follows rooftops. Each upper-floor apartment rented increases spending by $9,000 per year—in the downtown. So, someone who pays $500 per month in rent on the average is spending $19,000 per year community-wide. Likewise, someone who spends $1,000 per month in rent spends $38,000 per year community-wide. Upper-floor housing typically increases property values by at least 50 percent, increasing the value for the property owner as well as increasing property taxes for the City.
We in Main Street Vineland are looking to establish partnerships with organizations that will result in grant money and incentives for property owners to create the kind of second- and third-floor housing that will attract these target populations. We are looking to make this a major priority and you will read more about this as we move forward on certain initiatives.
Make downtown Vineland your destination for your shopping needs, as well as for fun all year round. Save money on gasoline, avoid the long lines at the big-box stores, malls, and shopping centers—and also enjoy the events we have in town.
For more information on Main Street Vineland, call 856-794-8653, visit mainstreetvineland.org or check them out on Facebook. You can also e-mail rswanson@vinelandcity.org.