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Somerville NJ | The Somerville Construction Boom

Somerville NJ | The Somerville Construction Boom

Article by Michael Mizov @mikemizov
Photos and Video by Erik Renninger @erikrenninger

If you were to tell someone in 2008 that Somerville would be the hottest location in Somerset County, they’d think you were nuts, but in the past decade the town has entered a golden period, or better yet, a foodie nirvana. People are out walking, eating, shopping, and attending the dozens of events through the year. So much has changed, so many new buildings, the idea of more and more apartments on top of what has already come is a bit much to wrap one’s head around. Will Somerville maintain its identity? Can the town accommodate an influx of people? Is anyone going to be able to find parking? The answers to that are yes, yes, and hopefully.

Growing up nearby, Somerville was known for exactly two things: old houses and McDonald’s. Its forgotten downtown was circumvented by the highways that surround it and Main Street was shuttered, its lifeblood sucked dry by the gargantuan Bridgewater Commons that opened in 1988. The only store I ever went to growing up was Comic Fortress if I could beg my parents for a ride.

Even so, the recent announcement of a proposed steakhouse and food hall on the corner of Bridge and Main Street has garnered a lot of attention, with cries of “more apartments?” permeating the comments section everywhere I saw it posted. With the sounds of construction echoing through downtown for the past decade the inevitable question always pops up: what exactly is going on around here?

This boom started back in 2009 with the destruction of the Soviet-bloc inspired shopping center that dominated Main Street. Downtown Somerville’s erosion began with the construction of the Bridgewater Commons Mall as Americans left downtowns and flocked to malls. Over the years, stores left the structure and replacements were few and far between, the draw of downtown mostly a quick bite to eat when on jury duty. Time marches on and trends change, and as people became less invested in malls, they became more interested in downtowns, citing walk-ability, fresh air, and the mom & pop shop ideal.

In the summer of 2010 the first major downtown project was approved, The Edge at Main, a new apartment building in the middle of downtown, with space for retail and restaurants below 108 apartments and a new Shoprite, to replace the defunct Pathmark. By 2014 construction was complete, with a Starbucks at one end, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse at the other, and Shoprite bustling at all hours. Further east on Main Street, a temporary closure of Division Street making it pedestrian only for a time lead to a public consultation that closed it to cars for good, and causing store occupancy to go from 50% to fully leased in a matter of months, with places such as Division Café, Blue Sheep Bake ShopRetro Classics, Beneath it All, and eventually Cheech’s Own opening.

Veteran’s Memorial Drive was transformed, with abandoned commercial properties making way for The Cobalt Apartments housing 117 units. A sliver of property on Doughty was transformed into 18 apartments called Six North . The old site of Somerville Aluminum across from the courthouse was razed to make way for the 14 apartment Somerville Commons which is now home to Salted Lime and Turf, Surf, & Earth ). The last project to be completed was the 69-unit Soma, on South Bridge Street, a short walk from the train station.

As buildings were going up, Somerville was becoming a destination, a veritable foodie paradise, and as a result downtown was growing and thriving. Existing buildings got face-lifts, new restaurants such as KymaMike’s Courtside Kitchen (formerly Hansel & Griddle), and Seoulville opened. Martino’s closed, rebranded, and reopened as De Martino. There are now more things to do up and down the street, with antique stores such as Gallery on Main and Living in the Past joining Elysium Antiques. Pinot’s Palette and Ultimate Xscape brought in some activities that you could easily walk to after a dinner out. The unique rotating brewery/restaurant hybrid Project P.U.B. opened by the owners of Tapastre made Somerville a beer destination, with Village Brewing Company cementing that status this year, and now Somerville even has dueling Oktoberfests where everyone wins with two consecutive weekends of craft beer and Bavarian pretzels.

That brings us to today. These completed projects have added 326 apartments to town and by their own admission they’re all fully occupied (I checked; I didn’t find any availability). Somerville has become a very hot destination, with beautification projects supported by Arts on Division such as the Raymond Brown Mural at Redelico's Paint  and the Jerome Gonzalez Tribute Memorial that went up in September. People are out not just at Friday Night Cruisers but most nights of the week. Verve was voted the best bar in NJ  and to top it all off, even the New York Times chimed in, calling Somerville “A Walkable Suburban Alternative” .

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Halloween Events in Somerville New Jersey | How Haunted is Somerville New Jersey?

Halloween Events in Somerville New Jersey | How Haunted is Somerville New Jersey?

Article by Michael Mizov @mikemizov
Photos and Video by Erik Renninger @erikrenninger


Somerville has been around a long time, originally settled in 1683, home to the Middlebrook Revolutionary War encampment of 1778-79, The Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage site, and the historic Hotel Somerset, built in 1748 and presently the oldest continuous hotel in the country. That’s a lot of history – so is anything really haunted?

There have been many accounts that the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage just might be. There have been screams and banging heard and objects moved around during the night. Some have even said that they’ve felt a tug on their clothing, or a tap on their shoulder when no one was near them. Washington and his officers spent a little time there, perhaps the ghosts of the war linger still.

 

As for the Hotel Somerset, there have been several deaths and even a suicide over its tenure, and it seems some of them might be restless. During the 1926 Hall-Mills murder trial the hotel was at capacity, with media from around the country swarming the courthouse daily to watch the trial unfold. A jilted wife and her brothers stood accused of murdering her husband, an Episcopal priest, and his mistress, a member of the church choir. The jury saw they had the motive and means but were ultimately found not guilty due to lack of evidence.

Back in 2014 Paranormal Diagnostics came out to figure out exactly what was going on at Hotel Somerset, after patrons complained of hearing footsteps where no one was, hearing voices calling out for help, and a couple cases, being tickled in their sleep. Unfortunately, the story ends there, with the site for Paranormal Diagnostics being taken down shortly after, maybe the ghosts finally caught up to them.

Spookiness aside, with its tree-lined streets and dozens of stately Victorians though town, Somerville is a hotspot in the area for Halloween activities for people of all ages. Get your costumes ready now because the events start as early as October 25th and will take you all the way through the 31st.

Halloween Events in Somerville New Jersey

Friday, October 25th:

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Summer Stage in Somerville New Jersey Live Music on Division

Somerville Summer Stage LIVE Saturdays

Live Music All Summer Long on Division Street in Somerville NJ

Somerville Stage Top Shows on Stage in Somerville New Jersey 

mailorder 2

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Somerville NJ | Cruise Night 2020 kicks off on Main Street in Somerville New Jersey

Friday May 22th 2020 started the official cruise night in Somerville New Jersey. 

Check out Recent Photos from Cruise Night is Somerville New Jersey

Starting out on Division Street you walk up on a stage hearing tunes from Somerville School of Rock with a rendition of Queens "The Show Must Go On"

On the other side of Division is Marionette drummer Rocking out with Ricky Syers.  http://rickysyers.com/

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Chilled Chillers

Chilled Chillers

The Color Fields of Spencer Soletto’s Second Art Show at Niks Raritan Pub

 By- Tom Kubrak

 

On March 3rd 2019, Spencer Soletto(Soletto) had another art show at Niks Raritan Pub in Raritan New Jersey. His sculpting abilities were on full display as he showed the community the new and improved Chillers. The Chillers are his signature multi-produced piece. Along with that, on display, were some specially made sculptures just for this show, and other pieces that he’s had for quite some time ready to show people.

After the initial setup, he stayed there for a little while just to make sure everything was the way he wanted it to be. Every detail counted. The placement of each sculpture was crucial, in order to be experienced in the best way possible. Although it amounted to one heck of a long day, it would be worth it in the end. No matter how long it took.

The Chillers, who were the stars of the show that night, were feeling a little chilly that day due to the incoming snowstorm. The temperatures were rapidly dropping and causing a stir in the community of Raritan, it’s neighboring communities, and the majority of the state. The Chillers were ready though. They were ready to show the people what their creator did to make them the most sought after engineered piece of art in New Jersey.

“The Chiller is a figure that’s not feminine or masculine. It’s just trying to be the embodiment of chill.”

That evening, The Chillers, were gracefully perched up on their towers, that were strategically built by Soletto for them and the show, for anyone to see. They had a club box like view overlooking the bar. It was like going to Scotland and seeing the castles on one of their 790 islands.

The islands were clouded that evening though, as an epic snow storm raged through the Raritan Valley causing many people to stay in and pass this time. So the view was a little different for The Chillers and the people who came out and embraced the storm that caused a State of Emergency to be called.

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