Application for 7 Eleven Convenience Store in New Providence is far from heaven

The proposed application for a 7 Eleven to be built in New Providence is chock full of non-starters.

As many of you’ve read my comments on our need to grow our downtown business district within New Providence, I’ve asked each of you to personally make an effort to contribute to the overall solution by “thinking and shopping locally.”  Supporting our downtown businesses is critical to their survival, but also helps our economic base attract new businesses.  In addition, many of our community activities are largely funded by our downtown businesses.   Every time you patronize these merchants, you are reciprocating and thanking these businesses for their continued support and sponsorship of our community events.

We all realize the overall need to grow our downtown and attract new businesses to New Providence, I believe we need to also maintain a complimentary balance within that growth.  While our aspiration and immediate objective should be to help reduce our vacancy rate, we need to be prudent and scrutinize applications to build new infrastructure; particularly for businesses which may not be enhancing our current business landscape.

An application was recently submitted to build a 7 Eleven convenience store on South Street between Provident Bank and Barth’s Market.  I look at this application and can’t help but conclude that it’s just not a good idea as I don’t believe that the 7 Eleven plans fit within our current downtown or more specifically within the Master Plan for the Borough of New Providence.  Many of you have voiced similar concerns from not only a traffic flow and congestion perspective, but also in terms of vehicular and pedestrian safety as well.  As with many of you, I struggle to exit the Village Shopping Center on South Street within the existing business footprint and traffic flow.  I can’t foresee the ability for anyone to convince our Planning Board that a 7 Eleven won’t compound the situation further.   

The responsibility of the Planning Board is to assess this application and all of the respective requests for variance and determine whether it conforms within prevailing building code, land use and zoning ordinances as well as within the overall traffic impact a 7 Eleven would have upon our downtown and parking areas during peak business hours.  I feel very confident that the Planning Board will conclude that this application by 7 Eleven is a square peg in a round role and reject it.

I encourage citizens to come out on Mar. 5 when the Planning Board hearing takes place to ask 7 Eleven your questions concerning:

  • where the delivery trucks will park during business hours
  • what they believe the increased traffic flow will be and how it will be addressed
  • how pedestrian safety will be assured whether a building can be built in an area that is prone to regular flooding
  • what specific variances 7 Eleven may need in order to conform to our regulations
  • what variances they may seek to run their operation

I would further ask citizens to share their concerns within our respective media outlets as appropriate.

We all realize the 7 Eleven brand is a successful one and I have nothing personally against this franchise itself.  However, this application will be chock full of non-starters.  I strongly suggest that if 7 Eleven truly wants to become part of our business community, that they look at filling one of the current vacancies within the New Providence business landscape where traffic, safety and overcrowding are not currently an issue.

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edufirst February 18, 2013 at 01:03 PM
They should absolutely take some of the empty real estate in town; not build.
Clarice Milbrodt February 18, 2013 at 01:28 PM
I think they would be too close to our convenience store across the street. They would have a good place on Central Ave. where there is no food store now. People on that part of NP could use a place to make a quick purchase. Other than that they should take an empty spot in town, Clarice
Rob Dinerman February 18, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Jim, Thank you for taking the time to inform us of the issues. I like the idea of 7-Eleven using some existing vacant real estate. Maybe the old A&P mall would provide the necessary traffic for their success.
Don Burkitt February 18, 2013 at 02:23 PM
My confidence in our planning board has been lowered ever since a "cash for gold" business was permitted on Springfield Avenue. It still must be said for their benefit that, in a highly congested segment of South Street (Barth's, NP Fuel, McGrath's, entrance to Village Shopping Center, approval of this location would be reckless.
Alan Zark February 18, 2013 at 05:14 PM
would be sad if they approve a new business which would be in direct competition with one that has been part of the community for years and a good neighbor too!!
Jim Madden February 18, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I hope everyone realizes that the Planning Board does not and cannot "screen" businesses who wish to locate a business within New Providence. That is not possible. Even with an existing convenience store on South Street, the Planning Board's decision is solely based upon the merits of the impact assessment, building code and zoning guideline conformity. An intangible that I've read above is South Street Market. Neither the Planning Board nor the Borough can "block" an application based upon there already being a business type nearby.
Ray Borgersen February 18, 2013 at 09:31 PM
I greatly appreciate the information re: the potential 7-Eleven in our town. I think it would be a good addition, if the parking/traffic issue is properly addressed. To be a convenience store, it needs to be easily accessable. Locating it in the Village Shopping center will not achieve that. Even with the current vacancies, there are currently parking, access and safety issues with the shopping center. Locating a 7-Eleven store in there would only add to the current problems. I cannot think of any other vacant locations in town that would provide the necessary easy access for a store like a 7-Eleven. The shopping center on Central would not provide the customer traffic that 7-Eleven would probably be looking for. I hope something can be worked out because I think a 7-Eleven in New Providence would be a good thing for the town. Ray Borgersen
Alan Zark February 18, 2013 at 10:38 PM
The real question Ray is do we need a 7 11 at all? From an impact point of view, the project relies on heavy vehicle traffic and would impede pedestrian flow, also there is a school just down the street and children walking home past this new store would have to deal with the increased flow in and out of the lot...good idea?? Naahhh.
Ray Borgersen February 19, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Another convenience store, particularly one of 7-11's stature can be a benefit to New Providence residents. Competition invariably results in better product, services & pricing. I hope the town can develop a solution to the problem that already exists with the South St. exit of the shopping center; a solution that would lessen any impact by a 7-11 across the street. Even without the 7-11, the addition of the new Fan Bistro and Italian restaurants, and whoever takes over the old Chen's site, make it very necessary to make improvements for the South St shopping center exit.
Jim Madden February 19, 2013 at 05:41 PM
@ Ray All solid points. The Borough needs to addresss the existing parking and traffic flow issues and remediate them within access and egress of the Village Shopping Center prior to the addition of a 7-Eleven or any other "new" building proposals. We can't put "another" cart (obstacle) in front of the horse (current conditions).
James March 08, 2013 at 06:40 PM
I was wondering if a study on the health benefits of having a 7-11 in town has been addressed. Since it will be placed in between the town pool and the high school, most likely it will be easily accessible to kids. Are there enough healthy options on display? Or are we just enforcing a the sugary, soda, snack food culture?


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