Now It’s Official – Montclair Center’s Church Street Named A “Great Place in New Jersey”

Now It's Official - Montclair Center's Church Street Named A " Great Place in New Jersey"Montclair residents and visitors, who enjoy the live music, shopping, restaurants, yoga events and all-around great vibe that Church Street in Montclair Center offers, know exactly how great the street is. Now, Church Street’s charms have been officially recognized; the street in Montclair has been named a Great Place in New Jersey by the American Planning Association-New Jersey Chapter (APA-NJ).

“APA-NJ chose to honor Church Street because it excels in all of the elements of a Great Street,” said APA-NJ President Charles Latini, Jr., AICP. “Pedestrians in Montclair Center are drawn to its wide sidewalks, comfortable benches, window-shopping opportunities, alfresco dining, and outdoor entertainment.”

“Part of Church Street’s charm is the rich diversity of architectural styles found in such a compact setting,” added Linda E. Wills, AICP, APA-NJ Great Places Committee Chair and one of this year’s Great Places in New Jersey judges. “Visitors following Its S-curve route enjoy the streetscape as it unfolds.”

Photo: Laura Baer
Photo: Laura Baer
“Church Street offers a regional destination for shopping, dining, working, living and just plain enjoying,” said Executive Director of the Montclair Center Corporation, Luther Flurry. “The hubbub of friends meeting and enjoying and the sounds of street entertainment create an excited buzz, but you can find a quiet spot to listen to birds or contemplate an architectural detail.”

“We are pleased to recognize eight special and unique places around New Jersey,” said APA-NJ Chapter President Charles Latini, AICP. “From Church Street in Montclair and Broad Street in Hopewell Borough, to historic Downtown Frenchtown on the Delaware River and the relatively new Pier Village on the Long Branch beach front,” Latini continued, “our 2012 Great Places reflect a tremendous amount of history, diversity and economic vitality. We hope that they inspire other communities to envision, plan and create their own great places.”

Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live. They are enjoyable, safe and desirable, places where people want to live, work and visit every day. New Jersey’s great streets, neighborhoods and public spaces are defined by many criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality and community activity.

More on all the 2012 Great Places in New Jersey designees.

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  1. A tip of the hat to Montclair’s dear departed Edgar Ferdon, who must be smiling down from heaven to see his vision achieved (over 25 years) through the volunteers, property owners and small businesses of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District. Church Street’s success does many things, but it first and foremost honors Ed and his initiative. Cheers all around!

  2. profwilliams, What a wonderful world: Montclair is “NUMBER 1,” and you are a “professor” living on an “Estate” with “the Mrs.” The richness of your “African-American library” is only exceeded by the “socio-economic diversity” (between you and them) of your “staff.” This self-delusive portrait of would-be suburban gentry packaged in a cyber persona does not represent the Montclair we know and even less one most villagers would aspire to. The feminine core of me cringes whenever I read your references to this woman known only as “the Mrs.” One only hopes that she is no more real than the other elements of your imaginations. Still. Women have come a long way since Montclair was lit by gas lanterns.

    Church Street is modern, hip, diverse, friendly and a great place you might want to try some sunny weekend morning or afternoon. It is not the Montclair that promotes class distinction or harks back to the days of footmen and servant quarters. If you do come out into the daylight, perhaps leave “the Mrs.” in the apartment on the keyboard and bring a real companion (and your wallet as well).

    Montclair is #1. This, however, is not because it wins an obtuse mention in a magazine or on a website or because of some competition or some particular branding. Montclair is #1 because it is home. It is that simple.

  3. idratherbeat63

    The ‘professor’ is a frequent poster to this forum, who showcases his bloated/inflated ego and myopic view of the world on a nearly daily basis.

    I think that posting to Baristanet is his primary hobby.

  4. idratherbeat63,

    WOW, this is the first time my mere musing have touched a “feminine core.” Thank You!

    I also appreciate your thoughtful (though wrong) readings of my lifestyle here “on campus” as I like to call Montclair. I’ll make sure to keep you in mind when I post.

    But to claim that Church St. is some mecca of diversity in town only shows that you are the one living in an imagined world. Having a standing Saturday evening table at Raymond’s, I’ve seen the lack of diversity on the Street. Sure you see some different folks, but if you look at the racial and economic makeup of Montclair, Church St. is NOT at all reflective of it.

    BUT DON’T GET ME WRONG: Church St. is lovely, with wonderful shops and shop owners. I love Church St. Walking it, then crossing to Glenridge Ave. (avoiding the Montclair Book Center for personal reasons), and walking down Bloomfield a bit is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend with the little prof.

    So don’t confuse yourself on this one.

    Oh, and mrs. prof appreciates your new role as grand overseer of all things “feminine.” I’ll let her know to check the sky for your “feminine” bat-like sign, instructing her on what choices she should make.

    Or will you just text?

  5. montclairrepublican, you are so right about Ed Ferdon, and the achievements of the BID, but you forget an important chapter, when the Montclair Economic Development Corporation, with negligible funding and devoted volunteers, kept his dreams alive and led to the creation of the BID. Cheers to all, its a great area and a great town!

  6. Kind profwilliams, somehow I cannot see myself in Raymond’s on a Saturday evening looking out the window and profiling people according to race and economic standing. It just would never cross my mind. I have no idea what race is and I simply don’t see it. Call me myopic. I simply cannot get all in a puff because of the skin color or disposable income of others.

    I’m happy you do get out of the apartment at least once a week. This is truly the first time I ever thought of Montclair as a “campus” made up from “estates” and populated by “little profs.” Indeed, here you do challenge us.

    The Montclair Book Center is a great shop. It could be within your budget. You might stop in sometime.

    Would you terribly object to giving “the Mrs.” a name? It could be anything: Mildred, Patty, George, Bert. You choose. It would just be such a relief.

    I won’t be texting. I already made a suggestion for viewing the Montclair skyline.

  7. Holly Gee Golly Wiz! I’m starting to think people misunderstand your dry sarcasms prof. It’s a hard road to be confident in your view of things based on in the moment observations, which is what a blog like this is. I find being observant a lost art to many as they concentrate instead on the important things, like the vast wasteland of their smart phones. It’s been said most people don’t look up…but now they hardly look where they’re going. I don’t find you ridged in those observations either prof, just don’t lose sight of big picture by to many hours of reflection while on the south 40.

  8. idratherbeat63,

    When people like you say something dumb like, “I don’t see race,” I wonder how nice it must be to not EVER have to consider it. Or better yet, how naive one has to be to not “see” race. Because, for my full life, I cannot think of a day where something didn’t remind me I was Black. Thankfully, it’s mostly positive, like seeing another Black person and nodding, or saying hello. Seeing Obama (who, while I disagree with him on many things, still makes me proud as hell). Watching sports. Walking around town. Seeing Black folks on TV shows where there being Black is not an issue.

    But every now and then (very infrequently), it’s negative. DWB is alive and well in Montclair too. As is following Black folks around in stores. Oh, and you have heard about Stop and Frisk in NYC, right?

    Understand, I happily see race. And gender. And sexual orientation. And religion. I “see” it all. I will not deny someone who they are because of my own dumb idea of what, equality? I treat everyone the same, but I notice and cherish our differences by “seeing” them.

    (As for The Montclair Book Center. Glad you like it. I stopped going because I don’t care for the folks who work there. I much prefer Watchung Booksellers.)

  9. (sillyphus, I’m so jealous of your embedded links. The code I used to use before B-net went to work press, worked find. But now, not. I should find something that works, because it is so cool to see an embedded link.)

  10. Once again noxious comments from the professor.

    How many times do we read him calling other posters ‘stupid’ and getting on his soapbox about his superior viewpoints?

    His blathering comments are not sharp and witty. They are repetitive, frequently mean spirited and somewhat sad.

    Let’s hope he starts his own blog and goes elsewhere.

  11. Holly Exaggerate, where is Batfem to protect us? I think calling people stupid and idiots is our self denial Governor’s forte, though he assures us he’s a fighter not a bully. I do think calling a dumb comment a …well a dumb comment can be just welll…just that, not that the commenter is stupid. Even if it’s just another dumb comment to point out how dumb it is to not argue why something isn’t dumb, perhaps you would like to enlighten, tell, put in the picture .. why a comment of “I don’t see race” isn’t dumb? The truth of backgrounds and challenges in education always comes up in judgement of anyone in my experience whether they are rich white folks or getto born black brain surgeons.

  12. good profwilliams, the claim “I treat everyone the same” is neither true or possible, desirable or defensible.

    You may profess to “happily see race. And gender. And sexual orientation. And religion.” from your “standing Saturday evening table at Raymond’s.” One fears, however, that what you do imagine yourself seeing is as real as “the campus,” “the estate,” “the staff,” “the library,” and the morphed persona of your last posting.

    Perhaps one could recommend to your “musings,” “sarcasm” and “code” the film “Alison Walker: Beauty in Truth.”

    PS Raymond’s does not accept reservations.

  13. On a beautiful saturday night, Spark, Ave. B and Church St. reminds me of Times Sq.
    People everywhere. I’ll have to check skin color and report back to the prof.
    Sillypus…..How about a tutorial on embedding hot links? Might be good for the Baristas to give us a little IT boost.

  14. idratherbeat63,

    Sorry. But this is the struggle, isn’t it? Treating everyone equal. Because I allow myself to “see” the differences, I also must confront my inherent prejudices and fears (and don’t tell me you have neither). For some here in Baristaville though, simply by virtue of zip code, they feel they’ve “mastered” differences- so much so they can make, yes dumb, claims of not “seeing differences.” (As if moving to Montclair SHOWS the world that you understand folks different than you.)

    You wrote that treating everyone “the same,” is not “desirable. However, recognizing differences, confronting your own prejudice and working to treat everyone equally is the difficult part of living in a “multi-cultural” environment. But from your words, I gather, stripping away who folks are, their family and culture, and nothing seeing what makes folks different, IS preferable?

    I think you walked into a corner, looked both ways, and realized you have nowhere to go.

    @PAZ, no “report” needed. I don’t know what race, or ethnicity you are. But I haven’t met a Black person who at some point is not aware of how many other Black folks around, and even if they haven’t, the know about other Black folks doing it. Contrary to this, when I mention this to friends, it’s usually a White guy who haven’t had any intimate relationships with Black folks who’ve heard it for the first time. And make silly comments like yours.

  15. @ idratherbeat63, I just read your “Raymond’s does not accept reservations” comment. Perhaps for you, they don’t. But some of us know the secret handshake.

  16. Prof……I have no intention of reporting back to you. I’ll let you take care of the census for all us unaware caucasians. As for “silly”… try to be the silliest of them all, though your undercurrent is Sharknado-serious and not even a bit Dada-esque.

  17. @PAZ, you called yourself “unaware,” whereas I explicitly mentioned those folks with no intimate relationships of Black folks (or folks different than them).

    Categorizing those “caucasians” who, most through no fault of their own, as “unaware”, is simplistic and reductive.

    And so, you’ve found yourself in the same corner as poor ‘ol idratherbeat63

    (As for the rest of your comment, you lost me, pal. I have no idea what you’re talking about.)

  18. profwilliams, no, it’s not just me:

    Should we add “secret handshakes” to the list of “Estate,” “library,” “staff,” “campus” and “I was black.”

    Could you imagine how readers, yourself included, would react if someone were to write the same as you and replace every capitalized “Black” with “White?” For some people this is simply racism, which is where racial profiling inevitably ends, be it from someone eating a cheese-steak sandwich in Raymond’s or the MPD engaging in DWB, as you claim.

    I challenge you to find a single town/village on the entire planet that is not multicultural. Diversity is nothing special. It is as common and everyday as plain white bread. It is superficial and boring. When insisted upon, it is dangerous.

    Church Street is a great place for Montclairians to go because there are nice shops with pleasant shop owners, because it is quiet and feels safe, but mostly because people run into their neighbors and friends and this provides a sense of community.

  19. “I challenge you to find a single town/village on the entire planet that is not multicultural.”

    Gort na gCapall, Inishmore

    Plus several tens of thousands around the world.

  20. croiagusanam, you mean that tiny worm hole of an island with French, American, German, Csnadian, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese folks crawling over over its rocks everyday, even a few Irish thrown in for good measure?

    Liam O’Flaherty, it’s most famous son, grew up bi-lingual, and this going back over a hundred years. I recommend to you his novel “The Informer” should you want to have a better understand of how cultural diversity influenced even such a remote island.

    The point is, we all live in multi-cultural societies with multi-cultural values and multi-cultural challenges. You can want your village to be special, but “multi-culturalism” and “diversity” won’t help you. Your crime figures might.

  21. idrather, visitors do not make a place multicultural. THE INFORMER, by the way, deals with a conflicted revolutionary in Dublin, which IS a multicultural city. I know the work well, having read it as a youth in both Irish and English.

    “We” DON’T all live in multicultural societies, which is one of the reasons people choose places like Montclair for example. You sound absolutely ridiculous asserting that EVERY town around the world is multicultural. While many are, more are not.

  22. Love Church Street. I am excited for the day when Walnut St. gets written like Church St.

    Everybody sees race and to claim otherwise is just goofy. I don’t care if your family looks like a Benetton ad. We all see race.

    Having met the PW’s Mrs. (and she is a lovely person inside and out) I hardly think she needs anyone to fight any battle for her.

  23. If profwilliams, sillyphus, croiqusanam and Holly Korus want to spend their Saturday evenings at Raymond’s racially profiling people on Church Street and high-fiving one another because of Montclair’s exceptional “multi-culturalism” then, well I suppose that is their private pastime, as long as they keep it away from town politics and the town’s children.

    Race simply doesn’t exist. Biology, history, culture, linguistics and even your cute Benetton advertisements cannot explain it. In fact, they all demonstrate that race is a myth (indeed, an evil myth). A strong effort was made by people in the 1930’s to demonstrate race was real: it happened in the US, it happened in England, in Germany and in South Africa. It always fails (but with a cost). Their demonstrations failed and I can see no reason why you want to demonstrate it yourselves. You cannot see what is not there. And it is precisely for this reason that racism is so abhorrent.

    Holly Korus, some women want to stick together in the face of chauvinism.

  24. Yes of course idratherbe, we all remember when you, in another incarnation on this site, claimed that Montclair of old was a race-blind nirvana where all got along and the schools were islands of peace and goodwill where no one “saw” race.

    Of course, the Montclair schools own website offered a real view of the segregated system that led to court orders to address the issue. And of course in today’s Montclair schools we never see any evidence of achievement gaps, with black students populating lower-level classes in far greater proportion than their peers, right?
    Because there is no race, and ergo no problem.

  25. croiagusanam, I see some people in town are quite upset by Gail Shepard stating and writing what was published on this site: “This is the equivalent of asking the MEA to sit in the back of the bus, and we just won’t do it.” I have sympathy with people being upset about this, however provoked it may have been. At the same time, to see people here in other contexts promoting the virtues of racial profiling, for whatever good end you might think it could serve, is disconcerting.

    However, I fear now profwilliams tendencies toward grandiose self-delusion have become infectious and you have caught the bug: Do show me when in any incarnation I stated ‘Montclair of old was a race-blind nirvana where all got along and the schools were islands of peace and goodwill where no one “saw” race.’ I’m far too young to have such a memory or to have lost such a memory. Of course, I do dream this future just as Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed this. But that is for the here and now neither here nor there.

    Still I have plead my case too long and hard, and that too is not praiseworthy. I’ll leave you villagers to your “estates” and “staff” and “the Mrs.” and “places of honesty” with visions of “multiculturalism” dancing on sugar plums.

  26. Church street is lovely, don’t get me wrong. I shop there, I support the wonderful merchants there, and I count it as an immeasurably important addition to Montclair’s downtown area (aka the Central business District).

    But, as a business owner located mere steps away on Glenridge Avenue, I am more than a tad annoyed by the exclusivity of focus on Church Street. There are many wonderful retailers, restaurants and professional services located on Glenridge Avenue who are given short schrift by the Township and by others supposedly “carrying the ball” in their interest.

    Case in point: I am given to understand that the decrepit (but architecturally and historically important) building at 205 Claremont Avenue that once housed the First Lutheran Church has a potential buyer who would turn the long-abandoned structure into a catering venue for weddings, conferences, social events and so on. This is an individual likely to have the funds on hand not only to restore the building to its one-time beauty, but to undertake the hugely costly remediation of the ground on which it sits.

    Such a salutary change would be like a breath of new life into Glenridge Avenue, removing a dangerous eyesore and replacing it with an attractive structure that would surely bring more pedestrian traffic onto the street and into our stores and offices.

    Was this buyer welcomed with open arms? Did anyone convey their gratitude for and pleasure at this turn of events?

    No, they did not.

    What this buyer was reportedly told was that since the site was zoned for retail occupancy, a catering venue operating on an “on demand” basis was unacceptable as an occupant. If a business wished to operate on the site, it would need to be a retail concern open six days weekly for the conduct of business.

    So, this seems to be the story, as it was relayed to me: unless precisely the right kind of occupant purchases and operates out of the soon-to-be heap of timber at 205 Glenridge Avenue, nothing will be done. This architectural gem will be allowed to collapse, and the merchants, patrons and residents of the area ill be no better off. Indeed, they will be worse off.

    Is it me, or is this utterly decerebrate?

    Ah, well: not to be a spoil-sport: All together now: All Hail Church Street!</i?

  27. Interesting, Bill. Any chance the buyer might have tried a low-key retail strategy, as the folks at Corso 98 on Walnut Street have done? Their tiny storefront, “Bite Me,” appears to have been created to satisfy just this sort of (perhaps this very) zoning requirement. It doesn’t appear to be a costly distraction from their normal kitchen operations, and in fact they appear to be doing a nice business selling their ravioli and a few other things out of that shop. If the deal you mention hasn’t been totally scuttled, perhaps this potential buyer could interview the Corso 98 owners to figure out if they have any advice to share.

  28. Bill Courson, the church at 205 Glenridge Avenue is indeed an architectural gem that appears to be still standing only because it has been standing so long and knows not better. Amazingly, it is not designated as an historic structure, but it should be. While it is difficult to look past the disrepair, it remains a beautiful example of the Victorian Gothic style where a rich number of Montclair communities came together. There should be interest from the politicians and the business community in Montclair to ensure that this building is preserved and restored, and that it is put to new usage.

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