MAPLEWOOD, N.J., April 19, 2011 – Looking for fun-filled programs for kids who love arts and crafts or music and dance? How about martial arts and fitness classes tailored to parents and children? Maybe a creative setting for a birthday party or group outing that’s different from the same old, same old? Many local families are finding great programs in a convenient location surrounded by other retail, service and dining options on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood.
“As redevelopment has enhanced the face of the streetscape and the commercial space on the Avenue, we’ve been able to attract new investors and entrepreneurs with creative ideas who also want to live in the community,” said Mayor Vic De Luca. “That synergy has helped Springfield Avenue fill an important niche as a destination for family friendly activities.”
Parteaz (1860 Springfield Avenue), a business previously located in South Orange, held its official grand opening in January. For two years, owner Susan Donlan looked for a new home for the special celebrations Parteaz hosts for children and adults. In her words Springfield Avenue “wasn’t ready” at the beginning of her search, but ongoing changes and improvements convinced her that “the time was right.”
Amidst the Avenue’s welcoming ambiance featuring new sidewalks and decorative streetlamps, in addition to attractive new buildings and facades, families find the kinds of businesses and services that make their busy lives more convenient. Parents feel comfortable dropping their children off for programs knowing they can complete errands like making a bank deposit, picking up dry cleaning, or simply grabbing a great cup of coffee, a quick bite to eat or even some takeout food for dinner at nearby businesses on the Avenue.
Simone Anthony-Brown, co-owner of Express Yourself Studios (1912 Springfield Avenue) and a board member of Springfield Avenue Partnership, believes a lot of new residents, many who have moved to Maplewood from New York City, are choosing the community for its diversity, not only in the sense of neighbors representing various cultures, but also in terms of the services and amenities it provides. “A great place to live and to do business must offer a lot as part of the neighborhood experience and that includes different programs, services and dining options,” she concluded.
Diana Vitrano, district manager of Springfield Avenue Partnership, believes the combination of convenience, in the form of easy access and plentiful free parking, with an intriguing mix of businesses has a lot to do with the Avenue’s growing popularity not only with the local community but also with residents of nearby towns. The Partnership works to promote the business district and to help create a favorable environment for new businesses to locate and prosper.
From Jazzberries Center for Music and Art (1677 Springfield Avenue), to Stories in Motion (1874 Springfield Avenue), which provides programs for infants and children up to 12 years old combining movement, dance and storytelling, the creative names of many businesses along the Avenue are enough to catch the attention of busy consumers. While Springfield Avenue has more than its share of more traditional programs, including programs at the Hilton Branch Library (1688 Springfield Avenue), BlueLife Karate & Fitness Centers (1809 Springfield Avenue), Shakti Yoga (1861 Springfield Avenue) and East Side Fitness (1865 Springfield Avenue), it is the unique nature of many Avenue businesses offering family-friendly programs that make the district so distinctive.
The different tea parties presented by Parteaz for kids include Princess, Mermaid, Glam and Hollywood themes, as well as popular Spa and Tropical Parties. Parteaz also hosts tea parties for adults, including a recent bridal shower. Katie Clayton’s It's Sew Crafty shares space with Parteaz and offers “hands-on” programs for children and adults. Classes include “It’s Sew Tee’s” (transforming T-shirts), “It’s Sew Funky” (simple crafts with a sewing machine), “It’s Sew Recycled” (recycling old clothes into something new) and "It’s Sew Much Fun" (teens learn to sew clothes and accessories).
An art studio and art gallery offering programs for children and adults, Express Yourself Studios presents Pizza and Pottery every 4th Thursday of the month where children ages 5-12 can participate in a fun pottery project, creating functional pieces of artwork and enjoying pizza and beverages!
For more information about businesses, programs and services on the Avenue, visit Springfield Avenue Partnership’s website, SpringfieldAvenue.com, or the Partnership’s Facebook page.