Why do some traditional downtown centers still thrive and why do others wilt into a collection of empty storefronts while shoppers fight for parking spaces in the malls surrounding the town?

The New Jersey chapter of the American Planning Association hosts a walk through downtown Somerville on Saturday, October 18, beginning at 10 a.m. at 27 Warren Street. The tour will conclude at noon, when participants can gather for lunch and discussion at Alfonso’s restaurant at 99-101 West Main Street. To participate RSVP to the chair of the APA’s Emerging Professionals Group, Charles Heydt, at epg@njplanning.org

Leading the tour will be Borough and County Planning Board chairman Bernard Navatto and Somerville’s director of economic development, Colin Driver.

Formed in 1683 and first incorporated in 1909, Somerville, says the APA press release announcing the event, “is the quintessential example of how old meets new. Through proactive planning and innovative development, Somerville represents the synergy between historic landmarks and modern amenities.”

Stops on the tour will show “how Somerville has held onto its historic identify and embraced the demands of the future.”

Among them: “The recently renovated Somerville NJ Transit stop that underwent platform upgrades while preserving the historic station depot; and the Division Street Pedestrian Plaza, which offers a mix of restaurants and shops in a pedestrian oriented setting.”

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