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Interview with Montclair BID Director Luther Flurry

What makes Montclair 1 of 3 chosen Best U.S. Main Streets?

Diane Lilli
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We have about merchants 360 retail level businesses and probably more than in second story businesses, plus over 700 apartments in the area,” noted Flurry. “The National Main Street Center looks for a place that is a great place to work, live and play. This is our mission too: we also want a great place to visit, work, live and play.”
Director of the Montclair BID Luther Flurry

When the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, recognized the 2015 country’s best examples of comprehensive commercial district revitalization, Montclair was chosen as one of only 3 winners.

Competition for this highly coveted award was fierce.

Winners were selected from a nationwide pool of applicants by a national jury based on successful and innovative uses of the Center’s patented Four-Point Approach®. Montclair Center BID received the award at the 2015 National Main Streets Conference held in Atlanta.

So how did Montclair manage to achieve this national honor?

Luther Flurry, director of the BID, said he is thrilled to receive this award for the township, but also knows how much hard work - and diversity of residents and businesses - has gone into creating the go-to destination spot in New Jersey.

"We have about merchants 360 retail level businesses and probably more than in second story businesses, plus over 700 apartments in the area,” noted Flurry. “The National Main Street Center looks for a place that is a great place to work, live and play. This is our mission too: we also want a great place to visit, work, live and play.”

Keeping the historic charm of the downtown yet embracing the future of Montclair is a delicate yet successful mission of the BID. Winning this national award shines a light on just how fine-tuned the BID and the township have worked as a team, encouraging new businesses yet protecting the historic charm of Montclair.

Some of the many draws to the historic downtown include the renowned award winning Montclair Art Museum, 82 restaurants offering eclectic, renowned food from all of the world, and so many free public events it’s hard to list in full.

“Along with MAM and the Wellmont, at the BID we scheduled about 56 days of events last year,” noted Flurry. “We had free concerts, street fairs, art walks, and what was truly

amazing last year, even with the BID about 56 days of events, we only scheduled half of what goes on downtown. Places like Lulu Lemon, the township of Montclair itself, the Montclair YMCA, and all of our non-profits also host events, all the time. There is always something going on in Montclair Center.”

Growth in the form of two new exciting projects is also happening downtown.

The MC Hotel is, as Flurry explained, “a harbinger of great things in the future.”

MC Hotel is going to offer 148 rooms, and will attract new visitors to the downtown, where they can enjoy the restaurants and shops and services nearby.

Another new, upcoming project is the newest green-inspired “Vault 491”, offered by visionary Bob Silver. This newest creation should be ready in about a year in the downtown, and will include ground floor retail shops, services and a concourse along with upper level art, with a bit of a retro 1920’s feel, and of course, will be certified as a green building

“Vault 491 will bring new vitality and activity to the middle of the district,” said Flurry.

Also in the works are strong efforts among township and resident stakeholders, who are working diligently to re-create Bloomfield Avenue as more pedestrian friendly street.

But rest assured, Montclair, recognized as one of only three National Main Street success stories, will never rest on its charming laurels.

“This award is not an award saying Montclair Center has arrived,” noted Flurry. “This award is saying Montclair Center has come a really long and way and will keep on going a very long way.”

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