Redevelopment Plan in Works for Historic Campbell’s Junction

first_imgMercantante said a make-over for the bus stop is integral for commercial and, most importantly, safety purposes. “There are some great small businesses and restaurants that have moved into the junction over the last decade and some that have called it home for a lot longer than I’ve been here. It should be treated like a Main Street. Too many cars come speeding through, which is a safety concern. But if speed limits were reduced, it would also give drivers an opportunity to slow down and see what’s around,” Yahara said. Today Campbell’s Junction is a commercial center with restaurants, specialty retail shops, a brewery and residences. An NJ Transit bus stop still exists on Garfield Avenue. Photo by Patrick Olivero Though concept plans are still being developed, Middletown Mayor Tony Perry said the vision is a multifaceted initiative to enhance infrastructure as a means to improve mass transportation and traffic flow near the Leonardville Road corridor that cuts through the heart of the area. According to township administrator Anthony P. Mercantante, a grant application will be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Transportation requesting funding for the Campbell’s Junction Redevelopment Project. “Since its earliest days Campbell’s Junction has been a thriving commercial center and that tradition continues today. We believe this project will only enhance the area for our current business owners and encourage new businesses to move in, especially small businesses,” Perry said. “If we can improve the flow of pedestrian traffic and public transportation to the area, it’s not only a benefit to the members of the surrounding community and residents of Middletown, but you’re creating easier access for those in surrounding communities. It will be great for the businesses already there and make the junction attractive for new businesses,” Perry said. MIDDLETOWN – More than a century ago Campbell’s Junction was nothing more than a simple trolley stop beside a cornfield. “We may look at widening that roadway to create a space for two buses to load up at the same time. Everything is conceptual right now. But we need to make it safer. There hasn’t been a significant incident at that site, but we don’t want to wait until there is. We want to be proactive,” Mercantante said. A NJ Transit bus stop is currently situated on Garfield Avenue, a small extension of junction roadway squeezed between two residential properties and Leonardville Road. Justin Yahara, the owner and manager of Swagger Barbershop, launched his business in Campbell’s Junction in 2009 and said he hopes the traffic element of the redevelopment plan includes a mechanism to reduce speed limits in the area. “There are two or three bus routes that have a junction point there. Sometimes they arrive around the same time and there is not an officially designated place for commuters to wait and board or for the buses to park,” said Mercantante. He described the creation of a formal loading point with a shelter and a more organized route for buses to arrive and depart from the location. Perry said the junction has become a more attractive spot for new, small businesses to thrive, and pointed to the expansion of Belford Brewing Company, a craft beer operation on Leonardville Road that launched in August 2014. In 2016, the brewery expanded its footprint and acquired a second storefront for an additional tasting room. The area’s history is rooted in mass transportation. Around 1904, Derek G. Campbell sold a portion of his cornfield to the Jersey Central Traction Company. The streetcar company promptly laid down tracks to connect lines from Keyport to Highlands and Red Bank. In the late 1910s a bus terminal and gas station were added to the trolley depot. In 1923, the trolley depot was converted to a full-time bus terminal. Today Middletown officials say they are developing a new vision for the first business district in township history and the municipality’s only commercial hub not located on a major state highway. last_img read more