DCA Announces Award of Nearly $1 Million in Main Street New Jersey Transformation Grants

  • Posted on: 04/18/2022

Grants Will Assist Projects such as Storefront Improvement and Placemaking in Main Street New Jersey Districts

TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today announced the award of nearly $1 million in Main Street New Jersey Transformation Grants to Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) district organizations across New Jersey. The grants are aimed at improving the appearance, quality of life, and local commerce within MSNJ districts.

“As part of its mission, DCA has prioritized strengthening traditional downtowns at the heart of our communities through programs such as Main Street New Jersey,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “Today’s announcement marks the fourth time in as many years that DCA has awarded funding to Main Street New Jersey districts. This demonstrates that we aren’t paying lip service to downtown revitalization, but providing actual money to the cause.”

For the first 29 years of its history, the MSNJ Program provided technical assistance and training, but never financial assistance. However, since 2019, the program has distributed more than $4.3 million in grants – including the funding announced today – to MSNJ district organizations.

“The grant dollars DCA has given out in recent years have proven to be essential to helping Main Street districts withstand the pandemic and position themselves to find success in the changing commercial and retail marketplace,” said Sean Thompson, director of the Division of Local Planning Services, which administers the MSNJ Program. “This most recent round of grant funding will help our Main Street districts take the transformation strategies they’ve developed on paper and make them into a tangible reality.”

The three types of projects that were eligible for Transformation Grant funding are as follows:

  1. Storefront and Façade Improvement Projects: Improvement and restoration of mixed-use and commercial buildings and storefronts following the minimum standards of the MSNJ design guidelines for façades and storefronts;
  2. Placemaking: Improvement and creation of placemaking projects in public and publicly accessible spaces that meet or exceed the MSNJ placemaking project criteria; and
  3. Organizational Capacity: Services, training, and consultation in support of the implementation of the MSNJ district management organization’s transformation strategies, including costs of professional services directly related to implementing the project.

The MSNJ Program helps municipalities improve the economy, appearance, and image of their central business districts through the organization of local citizens and resources. Municipalities must apply and be selected to join the MSNJ Program, which was established in 1989. These designated communities receive technical support and training to assist in restoring their main streets as centers of economic and social activity.

A description of the grant recipients and projects are listed below:  

2022 Main Street New Jersey Transformation Grant Recipients

Main Street District Organization




Bloomfield Center Alliance Inc.


Bloomfield Center Physical Improvement Grant Initiative: Purchase branded trash receptacles, banners, and hanging planters; revamp the façade improvement program to provide bigger grants with a lower match requirement; create a vacant window initiative; install a downtown mural; and draft a strategic plan.


Boonton Main Street Inc.


Public Outdoor Seating Plaza: Transform the area in front of Boonton’s public library, which is located in the middle of the downtown district, into a public plaza to provide a permanent outdoor gathering space and complement the library’s newly built amphitheater.


Downtown Bernardsville


First Year Main Street Program Launch: Establish an improvement district, as well as four committees each with their own projects based on survey data that identified family dining, family entertainment, and hiking and nature trails as key transformational strategies.


Downtown Westfield Corporation


Revitalizing the Rialto Plaza and Walkway: Transform the plaza and alley surrounding the Rialto Theatre with lighting, art, a bike oasis, and public safety features to complement the arts-focused nonprofit that recently bought the theater.


Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation


Fair Lawn EDC Main Street Program: Rehabilitate the façades of three business properties, establish a website to showcase the business district’s merchants and services, and fund operational and marketing costs.


Main Street Highland Park


Downtown Parklet Project: Provide permanent outdoor dining spaces by closing off portions of the side streets off of Highland Park’s main street. A local carpenter will construct the parklet structures with community help on a dedicated “build day.”


Main Street Mount Holly


Keep Pressing Forward: Improve the façades of 17 business properties on High Street, install wayfinding signage in the business district, and hire marketing professionals to promote the district to the community and nearby Maguire Dix and Lakehurst military base.


Main Street Woodbury Inc.


Charlie Brown’s Fresh Grille: Complete the exterior renovation of the Charlie Brown’s Fresh Grille building, which dates back to 1737, so the restaurant can reopen and return to being an anchor in the business district.


Metuchen Downtown Alliance


Achieving Greater Success for Businesses in Metuchen: Improve the façades of two downtown businesses; install permanent outdoor seating, art, and plantings in the alley connecting New Street parking with Main Street; and hire a consultant to update the strategic plan for the next five years.


Montclair Center for Business Improvement District


Montclair Center District Improvements: Install a Letrapole banner system, create a website for stakeholders to participate in the banner program, purchase 14 hanging planter baskets, and partner with local groups to develop 3-4 outdoor shows in the Wellmont Arts Plaza. 


South Orange Village Center Alliance


Village Plaza Triangle Rehab: Install art, pedestrian lighting, outdoor seating/dining, landscaping, and recreational features for families in the Village Plaza Triangle to create an active community space that matches the rest of South Orange’s downtown district.


Springfield Avenue Partnership in Maplewood


Springfield Avenue MSNJ: Fund a one-time subsidy for MSNJ district salary, set up MSNJ committees to execute the work plan, develop a façade grant program, and make streetscape improvements such as banners, signage, and holiday decorations.


Summit Downtown Inc.


Placemaking through Public Art and Pedestrian Plaza: Conduct a feasibility study for the closure of a section of Maple Street into a pedestrian plaza, install a sculpture in one of Springfield Avenue’s pocket parks, and paint a mural near Summit Diner along Union Place where permanent seating exists.


Vineland Downtown Improvement District Management Corp.


Operation Facelift: Extend the façade improvement program to 6 to 12 new business properties in the downtown business district.






More information about the MSNJ Program can be found at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/lps/msnj.html.

The Division of Local Planning Services works with communities to achieve local land use and planning goals. As part of DCA's commitment to provide technical assistance to municipalities, the Division’s professional planning staff provides comprehensive planning services at no-cost to local governments.

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, and disaster recovery and mitigation.

For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media: 

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Lisa Ryan,
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Tammori Petty
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