Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Downtown Union Center...
I have been living in Union, New Jersey for about a year now. I moved up from the shore to be closer to work and chose Union mainly because I loved the look of the place I saw. I was looking to move to Millburn or to South Orange but the apartments in Millburn were expensive and subpar. I should have given South Orange a look but felt pressured to take the apartment in Union because the owner lower his price to my level.
The place is very close to my work in an okay neighborhood of well groomed modest houses. I'm close to the downtown area that extols the advantages of shopping there. The problem is, that's a lie or a dated sentiment. Union Center isn't what I call a thriving downtown at the moment. On a six block walk, I count a minimum of 20 empty storefronts, Five of which became empty since I moved to Union. Granted, the economy is still stagnant but it's not a ghetto environment but seems to be at a point of redefining itself.
Three places have opened up in recent months, Two nail salons and a Pizza place. the pizza place is filling in a need not provided by the 4 other pizza places and the two nail salons fill a need not covered by the other ten nail salons on the six block stretch. The five places that closed were two very old school establishments, A 99 cent store and an unfortunate named burger place called Banana Burger.
So Union Center is at period of transition but a transition to what I dunno. It doesn't look like it will become a hipster/yuppie paradise like Hoboken or Red Bank. Not many singles live in the area. It mostly is a neighborhood of modest bungalows with few apartment buildings.
It's blue collar with a growing Portuguese and Polish immigrant population. Their presence is represented by small grocery stores and bar-b-q places. I do fear an influx of 99 cent type store and an increased presence of offices for lawyers and accountants. I can't expect to have each of the available properties to be filled with places I'd really like to see but it's be nice for at least three places to be a place I would frequent.
As it stands there are only five places in Union Center I go to on a regular basis.
One is Burnett Bar-B-Q II, They are a Portuguese place that makes great grilled chicken.
Two is Stop & Shop supermarket.
Three is Quick Chek where I get my morning coffee.
Four is a Polish owned thrift store with a decent clothes collection at great prices.
Five is a small comic book store I only go to once a month.
So, I don't go to many places in my downtown, I ride my bike to towns like Millburn, South Orange, and Maplewood to go to fun stuff like good movies, better bars, Gourmet Groceries and a better places to eat. So what do I hope would move into the empty spaces of Union?
1.A Brew Pub or at least a pub with a varied craft brew selection. Union center has a few bars, None worth a damn and some pretty damn scary. I'm kind of a yuppie when it comes to my bars. I love good beer and pleasant surroundings that's not too froofroo, Like your average Manhattan old school bar or every other bar in Seattle. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen, I'll stick with the Gaslight Pub in South Orange and O'Connells in Jersey City. It's be nice to be able to drink a lot on a Monday night and stagger home a short distance instead of driving.
2.Another Coffee Shop (Even Starbucks) There's a place called Van Gogh's Ear that is interesting but needs a little competition to make it a better place for good coffee. I would prefer a smaller shop that doesn't have such a full menu.
3.A burger joint. I'm not far from a Five Guys, About a mile but I would like to have one open up closer to me or maybe a Shake Shack or something like that. Hey! How about Red Robin? Also, It's be cool to have a fish fry place.
4.Real Bar-B-Q. An Alabama friend of mine from my fork lift driving days set me straight on what Bar-B-Q really is. What we call Bar-B-Q is actually grilling, That's what the 3 or 4 Bar-B-Q places near me really is. None feature a good BBQ sauce, pulled pork or decent baby back ribs. A place like taht and keeping the southern theme, It be nice if we had a fried chicken place.
5.Any Fast Food Place. The nearby highways are littered with them but the downtown area has none. A Popeyes, Wendy's, Heck even a Burger King would be nice.
6.A Whole Foods Wannabee. South Orange features a great gourmet grocery store called Eden's Gourmet. It's smaller than your typical Super Market but features quality gourmet products. Unlikely to be in downtown Union but I can wish.
7.A Better movie house. the one in downtown Union would be great if it was fixed up better and played better movies.
8.An arcade or a roller rink. I know, How anachronistic. I just find it funny that a roller rink can't survive due to high liability insurance rates but at the same time skateboard parks are opening up all over the place at tax payers expense no less!
9.Art galleries. Only so I can demand some culture.
I only plan on spending one more year in Union so I won't be around long enough to see any of the things on my wish list open up. After that I plan on moving back to Seattle or if I have a reason to stay here in Jersey I'll look to move to Jersey City since that's wher the action is at.