Mixed use development project on Terrill Road illustrates the successful collaboration between municipal, non-profit, and private entities to better the community
The Borough of Fanwood and Community Access Unlimited were recently honored at the New Jersey League of Municipalities and NJBIZ Innovation in Public Private Partnership Awards. The award recognized the successful public private partnership that resulted in the mixed use facility on Terrill Road in 2015 , which includes two commercial businesses, low-income housing and housing for for residents with disabilities.
The project united Fanwood and Scotch Plains and remediated two unsightly properties for the benefit of an undeserved population. The two municipalities worked with Community Access Unlimited (CAU) to redevelop the remains of Rocco’s Tavern in Fanwood and an abandoned duplex next door in Scotch Plains. Community Access Unlimited is a statewide nonprofit organization based in Elizabeth that is committed to providing community access services for adults and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, at-risk youth, and people with affordable housing needs.
“There are thousands of people in New Jersey with developmental disabilities waiting for housing,” said CAU Executive Director Sid Blanchard, who adds the project is unique in that instead of segregating individuals with developmental disabilities, it integrates them into the community. The complex includes an elevator, spacious hallways and doorways, and roll in showers to accommodate the needs of all the residents.
Several private entities also collaborated with Fanwood and CAU to bring this project to life, including the TD Charitable Foundation, which awarded CAU $100,000 through its “Housing for Everyone” Grand Competition. Valley National Bank also provided CAU with a $5,000 grant to assist in the cost of the project.
Scotch Plains and Fanwood have both been enhanced by the project. The building not only provides accessibility and independence to people in the community, but has revitalized the neighborhood, and has raised the value of the once abandoned neighborhood. Cooperation from both towns was essential in order to successfully complete the project. “It was extremely important that Fanwood was involved with the project. I believe so deeply in the mission of Community Access Unlimited. No matter where you are, we need integrated housing. This is a wonderful example of a public-private partnership with no public dollars involved.” said Mayor Colleen Mahr.
PHOTO: Several Union County Freeholders, Fanwood Councilmember Kathy Mitchell, and CAU Executive Director Sid Blanchard joined Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr at the opening of the building in September 2015.