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Four Vacancies, Four Opportunites. What Should Go Here?

With ample parking in the back, these places should be prime real estate

Four store fronts remain vacant on Lower Main Street directly across from the .

The Cleaners closed; CareMinders moved two blocks up the street; Matawan Barbeque closed; and no sign is left to depict what the fourth shop used to be.

Lack of parking is a common complaint for Main Street business owners, but behind these shops there is a parking lot with over twenty spaces.

Recently, Patch users tackled the issue of on Main Street. The store recently , however several people suggested a Panera Bread, a tax center and a hobby store.

What do you think? What would do well across the street from the train station and in close proximity to both Route 34 and Route 35?

Michele March 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM
How about Trader Joe's?
Peggy Devlin Blazewicz March 10, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I would love to see a fabric shop!
Michael O'Kane March 10, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I really don't understand this article or the Dollar Express article. Whoever is willing to pay the rent is who should occupy the vacant stores. The passionate answers that were given were mostly unrealistic. Panera Breads are located in high traffic areas. The train station stores are located in a location that is commuter friendly, but not much more than that. We can want whatever we want, but until the governing body of Matawan explores viable options to attract businesses, the trend of empty store fronts will continue. I'd like to see tax incentives given. If it takes making additional parking by acquiring the Dollar Express property, tearing it down and making a parking lot, I'm for that. That is something that would help ALL of Main Street.
Barzillai March 10, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Despite being close the the train station, those shops aren't particularly convenient to rail commuters. I went to Matawan BBQ once after work. I parked in the outer reaches of the commuter lot and risked life and limb to cross the street. It is challenging during rush hour to make your way across Lower Main Street to their lot. There is/was a dog groomer there. I'd pop in there on a day off, no problem. Businesses like that make sense. Maybe a Cablevision drop off center, a computer service shop, that sort of thing. A fabric store would need more space, no? The brick building right adjacent to the train tracks on Main Street used to be a breakfast/lunch shop. I would go there for a quick eggs and bacon while I waited for the next train, but that was when the little white building was the rail stop and the breakfast place was a quick walk. I found the 7 Eleven and that little shop just a little too far away from the current station, so I rarely visited them. I'm apparently not the only one. You can't count on commuters to provide adequate traffic to have a successful business there. You'll be seen, that's for sure, and a little advertising could bring the locals in when they aren't commuting. BTW, I noticed a vacant lot next to Maloney's Pub. It would make a useful access way to parking in the rear and/or a walled-in and covered place to sit outside and eat in nice weather, like McDonagh's has in Keyport. It's an eyesore as is.
Jim Tobias March 10, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I'm all in favor of letting the market decide -- relying on dreams just fills these retail properties up for a while, until the would-be entrepreneur's savings are exhausted. But in the interest of thinking outside the box, how about these dreams: 1. Imagine these storefronts as the entrance to a minor league ball park. Great views of the creek, and rail service -- we could beat out Lakewood and Somerset. 2. A concierge service for local merchants and grocery stores. You place your orders online (last minute takeout food, flowers for the late-remembered anniversary -- right from your smartphone), and pick them up here, no matter where the merchant is located. Also good for dry cleaning drop-off and pick-up. Free commuter parking in the back for customers. Mostly, I'd like these small properties brought together with all the other parcels and odd lots around the station, into a redevelopment plan with some vision and excitement, with both towns cooperating. Let's figure out a way to do big things together, not nibble on the margins.
Joe Carelli March 10, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Maybe a jail for loiterers and burglars?
Joe Carelli March 10, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Let us not forget that the owner illegally destroyed the historic, tile facade a few years ago. Maybe, these vacancies are his karma coming back to hit him where it hurts - in the wallet.
Nick J March 10, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I agree with several of the comments made on the preceding post, you cant rely on the commuters to support business in the immediate area if the station, they drive into town park and do the same in the evening to get out and home as fast as possible. The sad part is this area has been in rezoned since 2000 as a redevelopment area. The aforementioned odd lots are owned buy long time residence that have paid taxes just like everyone else. They have been jerked around for 12 years with lawsuits pending between the towns, and lack of viable plan buy either the town. I have several friends who own not only homes but business in the station area, they have been on hold for 12 years with the town, its time to fish or cut bait. Where will the money come from to buy these so called odd lots? The state? It’s nice to say redevelopment and revitalization will help the town, but who will look out for the business and homeowners around the train station? The town wants to keep businesses alive, start with mandating laws and enforcing the loitering and vagrancy at the Quick Check and closed 7-11. What’s next to close? Quick Check the liquor store? Quick Check is already looking to move out, lets work together and not lose another local store.
Nick J March 10, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Despite the negative tone of my first post, we all must realistic and take into account the present economic state and lack of financial backing for such an undertaking. It's OK to change plans just be willing to stand up and say the people that made this plan did not foresee these current problems 12 years ago.
Frank Huza March 11, 2012 at 01:18 AM
The entire area is subject to transit village redevelopment, guided by both Matawan and Aberdeen. I hope that the developers will turn focus their vision toward Matawan Creek and offer expansive vistas of the salt marsh. Currently the water views are not a consideration, and probably have not been since the days of shipping produce or oysters to the New York market.
Nick J March 11, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Frank where does the money come from to buy all the property over looking the scenic salt marsh vista? There more then 20 homes that boarder the creek, how do these home and businesses owners fair through this process? I firmly believe the towns and developers have and are still selling a bill of goods to the large majority of the public regarding tax revenue increasing, Storefronts in town and at the station area are empty now, what is going to make a change?
Barzillai March 11, 2012 at 06:18 AM
I like Frank's idea about bringing the water vistas into the planning. If you stand on the bridge across from Lake Matawan and next to Quick Chek, you can see an interesting waterway that is pretty much obscured from view. Matawan Creek is not visible from Main Street. It's almost as if the Borough has cast the creek out from its midst. I agree Frank, we need vistas on the creek. Behind those shops would be a fine start. Nick is jumping the gun a bit in worrying about those with land interests. He's obviously got such interests or knows people who do. That's fine, but he shouldn't stifle discussion of ideas. Several negative posts, Nick. Brainstorming is a valid activity. The biggest complaint I hear about Matawan is the utter intransigence of interested parties in any particular negotiation towards progress in the borough. Discussions should always offer a way forward.
Nick J March 12, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Barzilli, just a short comment, my interest are in whats best for the town and it's residents ALL of theme not just the folks living in MARC WOODS... As the town moves forward with another residential projects like the C-Town Project with 39 unit how many more children will that add to the school system 80? how will this impact ALL of our taxes? I agree brainstorming and talk is needed to move things along, however the bottom line as I see it K. Hovainian would rather build more apartments and condos, low income housing on these properties due to two facts residential construction is more cost effective per sqr foot then commercial property, and housing is always easier to sell or lease. Please keep in mind developers have no stake in long term goals of our town just the companies profit at the end of the day.
Tom Lucas March 12, 2012 at 05:10 PM
There are a lot of mixed use projects popping up in other towns (Robbinsville comes to mind). It may be good to put up something that has retail on the bottom floor (restaurants/shops/bar) and condos above. You'd take advantage of the views if it was a few stories tall and the convenience of walking to the train may make it a desirable spot for singles/young couples working in NY. Work would need to be done on the crosswalks and intersections around that spot and the train station, otherwise it is a dangerous place to walk.
Jim Tobias March 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I love the comments about using our waterfront better. Look at Keyport -- incredible what they've done to revitalize their town by improving their waterfront. Instead we've privatized almost every square inch of lakefront, and the few public or undeveloped parcels are out of sight and hard to reach. Consider how much more use Matawan's lakefront park would get if it were on the downtown side of the lake. Imagine if Lefferts came a few more blocks downstream and met Lake Matawan at a single dam, with recreational uses and beautiful views just as you entered town. Imagine cross-town strolls from lake to lake -- raising the value of all the downtown property. I wish our public life were not such a snake pit of petty jealousy and misplaced partisanship -- we could actually accomplish something.

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