See which retailers are open or coming soon to TCNJ's Campus Town
Ewing,NJ - The College of New Jersey's Campus Town has sprung back to life now that students have returned to campus for the spring semester.
But the mixed-use development is about to become even busier with the new wave of restaurants and stores that have either opened or are about to open in the coming months.
"The retail is starting to pick up again," said Greg Lentine, developer PRC's director of university campus development. "Our initial focus was on the students, getting them in and now it's on the retail."
TCNJ's $120M Campus Town makes official debut
Work is still continuing on the ground-floor retailers, but students will begin moving into the apartments on Sunday
The first retailers opened last semester: Barnes & Noble in August, followed by Spencer Savings Bank and RedBerry Frozen Yogurt in October and Verizon Wireless in December.
Art Havier, RedBerry's owner, said the frozen yogurt and smoothies have become a popular treat on campus, but they're now working on getting their name out there to residentsnfrom Ewing and other neighboring towns.
"We have been well-received without a doubt with the students, but we do need to reach out to the community," he said.
When students went home for winter break, the night hours — normally a busy time — were much quieter. But Havier is hopeful that outside business will pick up as more retailers open and draw more people in.
Piccolo Pronto opened the day before the blizzard hit and the response from both residents and students has been "through the roof," said Amali Elabed, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Fami.
The couple own Piccolo Trattoria in Pennington and Newtown, Pa., but wanted to build on the fast-casual pizza concept Fami Elabed had seen on a business trip to California.
"He just didn't want to settle making pizzas, so he opened up the menu making customized pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches," Amali Elabed said, adding that the dough is made fresh daily. "It's finally come alive. We're really ecstatic."
A portion of the proceeds will also help local charities and food banks as part of their nonprofit and "Feed the Knead" program.
A look at how TCNJ's Campus Town became a reality
It took seven years to bring the mixed-use development to fruition, but The College of New Jersey finally opened Campus Town in August 2015.
The next restaurant to open is Panera Bread, which will have its own 4,300-square-foot building and drive-through window. The opening is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 22. Lentine anticipates Mexican Mariachi and Yummy Sushi to open in March, followed by Polished Nails and California Tanning in April. Brickwall Tavern and Dining Room has plans to open its 14,000-square-foot restaurant sometime over the summer, Lentine said. It will serve mostly craft beers and upscale twists on traditional bar fare. "It's a really good mix," he said of the stores moving in so far.
PRC is also close to signing a lease with a hair cutter and is in talks with brokers to bring in other retail that can fill the remaining 20,000 square feet, Lentine said.
He's now focused on hard goods retailers and some possibilities might include a running store, bicycle shop and women's apparel.
An update on TCNJ's $120M Campus Town projectProgress continues to be made on Campus Town's ground-floor retailers and the second phase of housing. Greg Lentine, developer PRC's director of university campus development, gives an update on the project five months after the grand opening. (1/28/2016)
Elsewhere on the $120 million project, construction is continuing on the second phase, which will add another 166 beds, bringing the total number to 612.
Unlike the others, the new buildings will not have ground-floor retail. Lentine said Campus Town is already 80 percent leased for the 2016-2017 school year. Also included in the second phase is a redesign of the college's entrance. "For such a nice college and now having this in the front, the front entry is a little bit less than what it should be," Lentine said.
Plans are still being finalized, but the revamped entrance will include new landscaping, gateways, banner poles, fencing and signs.
Lentine also hopes to bring in business over the summer when most students go home. As the college looks to boost the number of summer conferences and events it hosts, he said Campus Town's private bedrooms and kitchens will prove to be marketable.
"It's not a dorm situation for adults ... so we're hoping to increase conference business with that," he said.
Cristina Rojas may be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaRojasTT. Find The Times of Trenton on Facebook.