South Orange Village Center Alliance Ready for Action
Friday, February 8, 2013 • 6:45pm
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – With its new Executive Director, Lisa Hackett, in place, the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) is set to begin ramping up its efforts to develop and promote the village’s downtown core.
At a recent presentation at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Matt Glass, the volunteer Chair of the SOVCA Board of Directors, introduced Hackett to a gathering of local merchants. She was enthusiastic about the future of South Orange as a dining and shopping destination. Her first order of business, she said, will be to get out and meet the owners of all the existing shops and restaurants in the Village Center in their places of business. Supporting and retaining current merchants as well as recruiting new ones are among the key responsibilities of the SOVCA. Hackett said that one of her goals for the coming year is “to have a Village Center where there are no vacancies.”
Another task for the SOVCA is the continued improvement in the appearance of the Village Center. This includes initiatives aimed at enhanced lighting, signage and cleanliness. To that end, the SOVCA has recently hired two part-time employees charged with cleaning up debris and trash around the Village Center and maintaining planting beds in season.
The SOVCA is also looking forward to creating events and cultural activities that will draw people to South Orange’s downtown core. A downtown concert series that the Village has enjoyed in the past has lost its funding. Hackett noted that the biggest challenge facing the organization is money. While the businesses in the Village Center have a small portion of their property taxes go toward funding SOVCA efforts, and the Village government provides some funding as well, there will be a fundraising effort needed to make up the difference and help the group achieve all of its goals. They will also seek corporate sponsorship for events like the concert series.
The SOVCA has unveiled its new website, www.sovillagecenter.org. It features an interactive map so people may find the many shops and restaurants that South Orange has to offer. It also allows business owners and realtors to find the available commercial spaces in town. There is a robust events calendar as well. Individuals may make donations to SOVCA on the site by clicking here: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=Qc-q6LymQBQ00nryvWNqwo0UQO_99RsAHakgZsADrHiajkxdLsaaCvcxmDi&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8d569c51c61ce57e9125f793ea33988004
“There is definitely some good momentum building up in South Orange,” said Michael Casaren, co-owner of Sparkhouse, the popular store on Scotland Road that specializes in toys and children’s books. That is a sentiment that was echoed by many at the gathering as they look forward to the work the SOVCA is embarking upon.