Millville Matters: Forging Ahead in 2020

By: Marianne Lods, Executive Director, Millville Development Corporation

Millville Matters is a regular column written by the Executive Director of the Millville Development Corporation, Marianne Lods.

MILLVILLE, N.J. — At this time of year, we are thinking about the holidays and will soon be celebrating with family and friends. It’s also a time for reflection on 2019. In the Glasstown Arts District, we are wrapping up the year while planning for 2020.

Along High Street we saw several buildings being rehabilitated both outside and inside. Our organization was awarded funding from Community Block Development Grants to pass on to building owners/tenants as incentives to spruce up exteriors. We will be announcing the 2020 façade improvement grants for the next round in January 2020.

Additionally, we were given a grant from NJ Department of Community Affairs and NJ Community Capital that allowed us to renovate the Glasstown Plaza and add three new mini-murals on High Street.

Artistic Touch Beads expanded from a small cottage shop in the Village on High to a larger retail space in the 300 block. Royal Leaf Cigars was recently purchased and will continue to serve the Cigar Club members and all customers. Bogart’s Bookstore and Café was also purchased by a new owner who has introduced an exciting lunch menu along with baked goods and coffee specialties. New one-bedroom apartments debuted on the first block of High Street. The deluxe spaces brought six new residents to the arts district.

As 2020 approaches, we will see new construction in the 500 block. A mirror-image plaza will welcome you to the Arts District as you enter from the north on High. A new building will be constructed next to Zelphy’s (formerly the VFW). Parking areas will be developed along with this construction.

The Arts & Innovation Center at the corner of High and Vine streets transitioned with the main campus into Rowan College of South Jersey. The beautiful classrooms, ceramic studio space, gallery, and gift shop offer learning opportunities to credit and non-credit students. Studio time for area artists is available throughout the year.

The Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts was able to add one new studio bringing the total of 10 artists’ working studios into the building. Art exhibitions flourished throughout the year as the center looks back on 18 years as your public art center. Many youth and adult programs and classes are offered throughout the year.

We (the Millville Development Corporation) celebrated the 20th anniversary of Art Creates Excellence (ACE) youth art camp during four weeks in July. Grants and gifts allowed us to offer more scholarships than ever to kids with a love for art. Each week the three age groups had a different curriculum and artist/instructor. The program is held at the Riverfront Center and the Arts & Innovation Center.

Now we are looking toward the next decade. In 2020 we will be celebrating 20 years as an Arts District! We plan to have a big celebration in June that will be a public event. Millville was the first community in New Jersey to establish a zoned Arts District. It has served as a model throughout the state. We had lost momentum when the recession hit in 2008 and 2009 throughout the country. During the last three years, several buildings have been bought and renovations are going forward. We anticipate an exciting new year filled with new opportunities.

We wish to thank Follow Local News for offering this bi-weekly column to keep you informed about the happenings in the heart of our city. Personally, I wish to thank the Millville Development Board of Directors for their support and volunteerism this year. Another thanks from all of us goes to Millville City Commission. The commissioners have helped us in a variety of ways to fulfill our mission.