Bernardsville Decides On A Developer For Quimby Lane Downtown Project

August 11, 2021

The redevelopment of the Quimby Lane block will be handled by Advance Realty Investors, Mayor Mary Jane Canose announced at Monday night’s Borough Council Zoom meeting. Advance Realty Investors of Bedminster was selected after a lengthy review process over Melillo Equities of Far Hills. Both redevelopment firms had submitted elaborate plans for their vision of how to renovate the Quimby Lane block near the center of town.

The resolution introduced at Monday’s meeting authorizes the negotiation of a redevelopment agreement with Advance Realty Investors.

“This was a really difficult decision to make. It was an involved decision,” Mayor Canose said. “I wanted to thank our attorney, Joe DeMarco, and Chris Colley (project director) from Topology and everyone who has been involved in this process. It has not been easy. (Also thanks to) our administrator, Tom Czerniecki, for digging into the details of this and helping us with making this decision. What we’ll be working on next is putting the agreement together, setting milestones for the developer.”

Councilman John Donahue cast the lone dissenting vote against the resolution tabbing Advance Realty for the project.

“It made more sense to me to appoint someone who already owned a key piece of property than giving someone the designation who has to assemble it,” Donahue explained, “because I think the process may lead us to places that (cause us to) do things we shouldn’t do, not to mention the cost basis it might take to assemble it.”

Canose cautioned the council that, according to the borough’s attorney, the designation is not necessarily permanent.

“Should, at some point, we feel that our developer is not meeting the milestones we set, we can revoke that designation,” Canose said. “Right now we feel very positive about where we’re going. What was so great about this process with both of the developers (also Melillo Equities) are local people with wonderful reputations. They’re both very committed to the community. I think this will be a very positive experience for all of us.”

The focal point of the redevelopment of the downtown area would include transforming Quimby Lane off of Mine Brook Road into an all-encompassing plaza that would be more inviting to pedestrians and shoppers.

The borough’s original request for proposals in 2019 stated that the projected Quimby Village “will become part of Bernardsville’s identity and reinforce the unique downtown district as the crown jewel of the community.”

– Guy Kipp