For Pronti and NA, it’s all about smart redevelopment

241 Ridge Road in North Arlington Apple Maps

When he sought re-election last year, North Arlington Mayor Daniel H. Pronti consistently said redevelopment would be a key items for him and the Borough Council. Now, four distinct locations have been clearly identified, and those lofty goals, once just a dream, will soon translate into reality.

North Arlington has created four redevelopment zones — both large and small — that borough officials say they are eager to upgrade. Some areas are residential neighborhoods, creating a balancing act for North Arlington leaders to ensure any redevelopment effort enhances the area’s quality of life.

“For many years, there were parcels of property in North Arlington that sat unused, with dilapidated buildings and litter,” Pronti said. “The Borough Council is methodically looking at each and every property and assessing if redevelopment opportunities exist that can benefit the at-large community and our visitors.”

The mayor says municipal taxes have not increased in North Arlington for six years; ongoing redevelopment efforts — and the new tax revenue that has been generated — have been a prime reason.

Here is a look at the four ongoing redevelopment initiatives:

Ridge Road Development Area

Pronti and the council say they are eager to continue to redevelop the Ridge Road corridor, recognizing the enormous benefit of development downtown.

The mayor noted the survey results of residents and business owners indicate the need for more foot traffic on Ridge Road. Creating a vibrant business corridor has been addressing concerns over vacant storefronts and allow new businesses the time they need to develop a strong customer base.

Restaurants, bars and coffee shops are succeeding on Ridge Road, Pronti says. Still, borough officials want to create an even more diversified mix, including retail, to create a genuine, mixed-use destination. Factoring in new residential components is also key to enhancing the customer base.

New residential construction has replaced parcels that had been long blighted, such as The Ridge at 235-241 Ridge Road, a 30-unit, four-story apartment complex that replaced an abandoned lumber yard in 2018 and The Opus, built in 2021, a 49-unit development at 77 Ridge featuring a rooftop terrace and a lounge for tenants that replaced a rundown, overgrown lot.

Under new zoning rules, no new building may exceed four stories in height and must include corresponding parking, onsite, to accommodate every unit.

“These types of developments bring people to town,” Pronti said. “They are spending money in our local businesses and are helping the southern portion of Ridge Road flourish.

New vibrancy encourages more investment, Pronti says, adding a new doctor’s office has opened and The Tavern took over a bar that had been out of business for 12 years.

“It’s all dressed up now,” the mayor said, noting the trendy artwork décor on the outside of the building.

On River Road, meanwhile, there’s another focus is to create a river walk from the Belleville Turnpike to Riverside County Park. The effort also focuses on redeveloping parcels now either abandoned or contaminated.

The borough received a grant to clean up the contaminated properties.

Porete Avenue

Since 1989, the borough has targeted Porete Avenue for redevelopment, determining the area is blighted after years of industrial use from factories. Since then, the borough has constructed a new road to ease traffic and divert truck traffic from neighborhoods. A redevelopment plan will be done in stages, the mayor said, to ensure smart growth and a limited increase in trucks.

Hughes Redevelopment Area

The area at Sherman, Canterbury and Schuyler avenues, in the northeast of town, was deemed a redevelopment area last year.  The borough hopes to make the land more economically viable, invigorate underused parcels and redirect trucks.

“It was once an auto repair and car dealership that has been stagnant for years,” Pronti said.  “It is an eyesore. There are now concept plans we are considering, working out the kinks. I think this land is ideal for redevelopment.”

The mayor is cognizant of Canterbury Avenue being residential; so any redevelopment there must conform with adjacent properties.

“We are hoping to ultimately reduce truck traffic,” Pronti said. “We envision keeping commercial use and adding on-site parking. We want any enhancements to be contained on the parcel, with no parking spilling over into the neighborhood.”

Belleville Turnpike

The borough has deemed the area in need of redevelopment, but a plan has not yet been created.

Pronti said town officials are seeking ideas from investors to make the property between Ridge Road and Rutherford Place more attractive. It is the site of Pizza Land, 260 Belleville Turnpike, and other established businesses, which would be incorporated into any project.

Pronti again stressed all development will be smart development and must include ample parking. The development area comprises an entire city block and space would need to be allotted for spaces for shoppers.

“The redevelopment area features the first group of businesses in North Arlington when motorists enter from Kearny,” the mayor said. “We want this to be a gateway project, in which people immediately are welcomed to North Arlington and know they have crossed over into our town.”

Other aesthetic improvements are underway, such as the planting of 55 new trees on the Belleville Turnpike. The town is also painting utility boxes with murals and other local art, showcasing some of the iconic images of North Arlington.

“Our goal is to make the gateway have more of a suburban feel,” Pronti said. “We want it to be a more tranquil area, with plenty of trees, attractive restaurants and retail, new homes and an attractive streetscape.”

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.