Ferren Mall Parking Deck Demolition Update
New Brunswick, NJ—The Ferren Parking Deck is now approaching its final stages of demolition.
Now in the process of being torn down, the Ferren Mall parking deck is slated to be replaced by a multi-purpose transit village. Gone will be the dated red brick building, replaced by a more modern glass façade, housing restaurants, shops, office spaces, and apartments. This is the latest step in a $250 million development project focused around the train station, which includes The Gateway and the Wellness Plaza.
The New Brunswick Parking Authority’s Ferren Mall parking deck, built atop a four-acre lot, was bound by Albany Street, Kirkpatrick Street and Spring Street, with Church Street cutting about half way through. According to the New Brunswick Parking Authority’s website, the parking deck was built in the 1950s and was expanded in 1983 as a convenience for commuters arriving and departing from the New Brunswick train station.
The demolition project was broken into three stages and, during the duration of the work, Church Street has been closed from Spring Street to Kirkpatrick. Additionally, the western sidewalk of Spring Street has been closed from Church to Paterson. While the street closures may have caused some minor inconveniences, they have not caused any major traffic concerns for motorists or pedestrians. The closures are minor enough not to impede those trying to get from one side of the structure to the other.
“I would take Spring from my apartment to the train station in the morning, but now I just walk right past Key Foods and I come out in almost the same spot,” said Emma, a local resident, who commutes by train during the week. “At first I thought it would be annoying, but it really hasn’t made much of a difference.”
With that being said, there have been some issues for pedestrians related to the demolition process. With the tearing down of any large structure, rubble and dust are common, as rock, brick, and other building material are broken apart and debris is sent into the air.
“A large cloud of dust came from over the fence and hit me in the face, and I was covered in it completely,” said Nich, a woman who works in the building across from the site on Kirkpatrick Street. The woman, who walks past the lot every day, says she is excited for a new development to replace the now empty structure, but hopes they are more careful about pedestrian safety. “I was coughing for a few minutes after that when I walked into work. I don’t have breathing problems; I’m lucky. But someone might, and it could be a lot worse for them.”
The demolition crews use water jets to suppress the excess dust kicked up by the heavy machinery. Despite this instance, and possibly a few other cases, clouds escaping over the fence do not seem to be a common issue. Additionally, the booming noises seem to be audible in neighboring buildings during work hours. One business owner said she drowns out the noise by playing music in her lobby.
The first two of three stages have been completed, with the northwest corner the only part of the structure still standing. The process was estimated to take four to six months to complete, and with the fairly tame winter we have experienced this year, it appears they will have it done sooner rather than later.
While not finalized, the future is bright for the soon to be empty lot. Speaking with TAPinto New Brunswick back in December, New Brunswick Development Corporation president Chris Paladino said they are hoping to sign their first commercial tenants within the year. This would be the first step in the redevelopment of the Ferren Mall location into what city and DEVCO officials are calling The Hub @ New Brunswick Station.