Despite facing a coronavirus pandemic and all the tight restrictions in place, two members of the Downtown Woodbridge Special Improvement District say they're extremely excited about what's happening there.
The District's President Vito Mazza, owner of Vito Mazza Salon and Spa, and Woodbridge Councilwoman Nancy Drumm joined WBGO Journal host Doug Doyle to talk about why they are so optimistic about the downtown of Woodbridge.
While Mazza says he's thrilled with recent changes to the downtown area, COVID-19 has been a challenge.
"You know last March 18th we were mandated by the state to shutdown. We were closed for over 90 days so it definitely was a challenge. We opened up June 22nd with limited capacity, 25 percent, so you're constantly trying to figure otu new ways to conduct business, stay profitable, worry about your staff, your community, your guests, how you get everybody in. But we're sticking through. We've been here 50 plus years. We have a great community. We have a great proactive downtown township with the Mayor and everyone who has been positive of really trying to keep people shopping on Main Street."
Earlier this month, Downtown Woodbridge’s Special Improvement District announces the launch of its new marketing campaign with a new logo, tagline, social media accounts and website in the midst of the redevelopment of Main Street. Keeping with the town’s nostalgic green color, the new logo combines the hustle and bustle of downtown, showcasing future apartment buildings, businesses, and the convenient hub of the train station, with the family friendly atmosphere of Main Street. Accompanying the logo is the inspirational and hopeful tagline, “We Believe in Main Street” which holds a special message of anticipation and optimism for things to come.
Councilwoman Nancy Drumm, who considers herself more of a public servant than a politician, stresses the township's optimism is especially rewarding for her.
"I have six generations in this town, a lot of history. When I say that my stomach kind of gets happy because I truly do love this town. I believe being involved on this level has taught me so much and I've learned so much. I definitely have it in my DNA so to speak to love and support and be involved in the township.
Redevelopment of the downtown has begun with a new apartment building complex at 10 Main Street, which will have direct access to the NJ Transit New Jersey Coast Rail Line, a community room with a kitchen and bar, fitness center, and an outdoor pool and patio. Additional projects will roll out over the next few years on Main Street and Green Street.
Mazza says it's encouraging to see major development plans after a 25-year period of little activity.
"Some people may say it's too much. You know every thriving downtown I know of have people bouncing around and we have not had that, so it's exciting for the community, for the homeowners, for employees on the street and definitely for the township. They'll be six, seven, eight hundred, a thousand new people coming to live downtown. That's only goingto be a positive for business owners. I think there are also businesses right now that are challenged and struggled, restaurants in particular where they need that. We need people living here in order to shop here. This is part of this new message, this new branding to say hey we believe in this Main Street."
Councilwoman Drumm is also Membership Director of Woodbridge Chamber of Commerce and the SID. She says the overall plan calls for several new apartment buildings. Drumm says at the bottom of the apartments will be an opportunity for retail. Who will be taking advantage of the new housing in Woodbridge?
"We're seeing an influx of people coming from the city (NYC) or areas where the pandemic has really been severe and struck them in an effort to say I really don't want to be in these high-density areas anymore. So we're seeing a lot of people coming to our area and move into our area."
Mazza says the influx of more people is certainly welcome by the downtown's small business owners.
"As a business owner when you're pulling from all over the state and you say wouldn't it be great to have another 50, 100, 200 people walking up and down the street. To this day after 50 plus years on Main Street, we still get new guests coming in and saying I never knew you were here".
As part of Social Sidekick Media's new branding efforts in the township, the new website will be a resource for visitors to explore Downtown Woodbridge's shopping, fine dining, beauty salons, fitness gyms, and more.
Click above to hear the entire conversation with Nancy Drumm and Vito Mazza. You can see the zoom chat here.