The Township of South Orange Village, one of the five original New Jersey Transit Villages designated in 1999, recently opened a major addition to its downtown — the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC). This 34,840-square foot venue will host a variety of live music, dance and theatrical performances. The complex also features five cinemas and additional meeting spaces. Its location, at the corner of Sloan Street and South Orange Avenue, is at the center of South Orange and just steps from the Village’s train station.
The Village’s hope is that the SOPAC will increase patronage to the downtown area and attract more high-quality businesses and restaurants. SOPAC’s construction is part of South Orange’s ongoing effort to revitalize its Central Business District (CBD). Municipal bonds financed most of the $14.3 million project. Seton Hall University contributed $1 million and will use the complex for its theater arts program. The Center will benefit from “shared” parking — a mix of municipal, NJ TRANSIT and commercial lots will provide SOPAC with over 400 parking spaces for its customers.
Another important development in the South Orange CBD is the New Market project, located across the train station along South Orange Avenue and Vose Avenue. Developer Sterling Properties has been renovating the existing structure (a former ShopRite food store) to house a 3,500-square foot Garden of Eden Gourmet Market, with 1,500 square feet of additional retail space at grade level. Up to 12 artist lofts will be constructed on the second and third floors. Along Vose Avenue, the developer is building an additional 80 high-end condominiums, a project to be known as “The Avenue at South Orange.” Residents of these new units will have all the advantages of a well-planned Transit Village: easy walkable access to a wide variety of downtown shopping, restaurants, entertainment and excellent public transportation via NJ TRANSIT’s MidTOWN DIRECT one-seat service to Manhattan.