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Mixed-Use Project Targeted for Glassboro Library Property. Library Relocating to Rowan Boulevard.

Mixed-Use Project Targeted for Glassboro Library Property. Library Relocating to Rowan Boulevard.
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The Glassboro Public Library will soon be relocated to the Rowan Boulevard complex, ahead of a possible redevelopment of the existing library property. 

The new library location will be a block away from the existing library, at the corner of Rowan Blvd. and N Main St.   

The new location is in a newer modern facility located within the Rowan Boulevard’s mixed-use buildings. The end unit sits directly at the intersection and across the street from Glassboro’s open Town Square area.

The new location is about 1/3 the size (square footage) of the current library.

This corner unit at Glassboro’s Rowan Boulevard complex will be the future home of the Glassboro Library.

A recent article at Whit Online (Rowan’s Campus newspaper) says that the relocation is expected to happen by the end of the year.

“I expect certainly this will be done well before the end of the year,” said (Gloucester County Commissioner) Barnes. “I am actually hoping this is done before the end of [October], and I’m pretty optimistic about that.”

Gloucester County Commissioner Lyman Barnes, to The Whit Online

For the redevelopment of the library property on Center Street, according to Glassboro officials a developer is discussing with the town the possibility of redeveloping it as a mixed use building with residential and retail units, as well as dedicated parking.

The reasoning for the Library move stated by town officials (for several years) is the current library building is old and outdated, and it would require significant capital to bring the facility up to modern standards

Instead of remodeling, the town has been looking for a new location for the library for almost 10 years. That goal has been shared with the public over the years.

The current Glassboro Library building was developed in 1953 as an Acme Super Market. In 1979 Glassboro remodeled the building into their public library.

That being said it appears that the recent news of the Library relocation to Rowan Boulevard happening before the end of the year, came as a surprise to the residents of the town.

The library in Glassboro is operated in partnership between the Borough and Gloucester County. Glassboro owns the building and property, while the County is responsible for the library operations.

In recent Council meetings which are available at YouTube, residents have spoken during the public portion pressing Glassboro officials for more details on the plans; questioning the choice of location and its associated parking, and presenting concerns that the smaller size of the library would reduce important services the library can provide to the community.

At the same time that plans for the library relocation to Rowan Boulevard became aware to residents, the town rolled out new paid parking in the downtown district… $1 for first 2 hours (October 4th)

Regarding the new location, the mayor and town business administrator mostly directed residents to speak to the County Library Commission, stating that the County has driven the relocation.. particularly the timing and to this specific location.

That being said, Glassboro Mayor Wallace stated that the Borough is in full support of the relocation, but again… the County is the one driving it.

The current Glassboro library is very spacious in areas, but I am being told recently some of it’s contents were moved to other branches ahead of the full move.

According to commentary in this September’s Council meetings, it appears that multiple facets came together near the end of the summer leading to the new location being chosen.

First, as mentioned it’s been very clear from Glassboro that a new library location was needed, and the county was aware of this as they operate the library system.

Secondly, a developer surfaced showing interest in the library property for redevelopment.

Third… with the need to relocate the library and an interested developer knocking on the door, the County stepped in and agreed to pay the rent for the new library at a new location (for five years)… so that Glassboro would not lose their public library.

Center Street Library Property Redevelopment

The current library property features the library building which utilizes about 40% of the property, with the remaining 60% of the property being a paved parking area.

Glassboro officials state that the plan is to demolish the building and make it available for redevelopment.

If you consider the property’s close proximity to the Rowan Blvd. complex and it’s approximately one acre of space… it makes the lot a prime candidate for redevelopment.

Not many details are known about the new plans for the property or who the interested developer is.

But as mentioned it was stated in the recent Council meetings that the direction its towards a mixed-use development offering first floor retail, residential units above… and dedicated parking.

The town is in early stage discussions with a developer, and it is believed they will be moving towards a more formal redevelopment plan for the property.

The current Glassboro Library (bottom) is relocating a block away to a smaller unit in the Rowan Boulevard complex

Redevelopment plans give the town additional capabilities in defining specific zoning for an area in town (or property), including additional powers such as potential tax abatements or pilot programs… none of which have officially been determined are necessary for the project.

And for the Glassboro Library property redevelopment, it appears that the process has not moved on to the Redevelopment Plan stage yet.

Looking at the existing property/lot definitions for the block, I would assume that the “tax map” lots would also need to be realigned as they do not align cleanly with the library (parking lot) boundaries.

So it seems its still a little bit early to get details on the future of the property, but aspects of what is being discussed are known.

Glassboro owns the entire block that the Library sits on. The Fire Department and a museum are also on the block. The library is moving out, ahead of possible redevelopment.

Glassboro Public Library – Center Street

The Glassboro Public Library has been at the current Center Street location for 45 years!

The library occupies 8,500 sq ft of the building with the fire department utilizing the remaining smaller portion.

As mentioned, the building is dated and needs upgrades. I visited the library last week and was surprised by how dark the interior lighting is… and how few windows there are in the building. It was a bright sunny afternoon, but you couldn’t tell from inside the Glassboro library!

The Glassboro Library, which is relocating to Rowan Boulevard

While a full list of issues with the facility are not available to me, a document circulated by residents cites a 2017 report where officials reported “interior flooding, termite infestation, badly leaking roof, pervasive mold and mildew, antiquated electrical, and entrances not ADA compliant”

While redevelopment plans for the property appear now to be looming, it is the issues associated with the aging building which has had the town looking for a new home for the library… for about 10 years!

The library itself opened in the building in 1979… but the building goes back to 1953 when it opened as an Acme supermarket! 

The plaque says 1978 but it seems the Glassboro Library opened at a former Acme store in 1979.

The address of 2 Center Street is because the original Acme store entrance was on the very short end of the building, right at the corner! A tall and narrow connected tower used to sit atop the corner of the building and was the original Acme Super Market sign!

Some locals may also remember that prior to the library moving in, for several years the building was home to Big Hank’s Furniture.

So while the building was remodeled (and closed in) ahead of the library moving in back in 1979… the “bones” of the building are 70 years old. And those bones have been modified and patched up numerous times.

Rows of shelves at the Glassboro Library. It is being relocated to a smaller space in Rowan Boulevard.

A positive for the existing library is that it does appear to be somewhat spacious, at least in regards to the core bookshelf area. Aisles were wide and offered plenty of room to move around. The book shelves in place appeared to be about 50% utilized.

Some aspect of the lower space utilization could be related to changes in how the public consumes information today.

When I was in grade school the local public library was the only choice to access books and information… but today the internet offers information at your fingertips (including digital books), and is one of the reasons for a reduction of books available in both libraries and book stores… leaving more interior open spaces.

Computer use is also down, as high-speed internet at home and in your phone have supplanted the need for many to go to the library to use computers.

But the library today has evolved.. and according to some residents, today it is more than just a place to borrow books.

Glassboro Library – Rowan Boulevard

According to comments in the 9/26 Council Meeting, the “fit-out” of the new library space has already started.

And as mentioned County Commissioner Barnes stated that there was hope the library would be moved in by the end of this month! (October)

That being said, the Borough also stated at the 9/26 they had just seen the week before the documents containing the details of the new library space.

The new location of the Glassboro Library in Rowan Boulevard is across from the Town Square.

In my visit a few days ago, two people were inside the space… although they appeared to be simply talking about the space.. no tools or actual “fit-out” construction was taking place.

As mentioned the location is at the corner of Rowan Blvd. and N Main Street, catty-corner from the The Comic Book store.

There are many positives to the location.

The Rowan Boulevard complex has become a modern Main Street for the town and students… Many people are in the area each day including the Town Square park across the street. The complex also offers large parking garages.

The corner unit is also a newer space with floor to ceiling windows, which not only let in light… the windows connects the library to the outside… highly visible from the key intersection, the park, and even the business across the street.

The town has also agreed to allow the Library to utilize the Town Square space for Library functions.

The new Glassboro Library location in Rowan Boulevard, located across from the open Town Square development.

That being said, many residents are expressing displeasure with the location, or at minimum asking questions.

At the top of everyone’s list is… Size. The new library space is 2,700 sq ft while the prior was 8,500.

This is a significant reduction. But it’s being presented that this is the best option.

Glassboro officials shared that over the years they invested significant time and money to identify and get approval for a new library location. Eight to ten years!

Two suggested locations that were called out as examples were a redevelopment building site, as well as the Intermediate School (which was bought by Rowan).

It was stated that both of those locations were determined by the Library staff/officials to have not been adequate for their needs.

At one time Glassboro even spent $10,000 applying for a larger Library development grant, which was denied.

This led to commentary from Glassboro officials as to why the town is not building a new library.

It was estimated that in a prior study that the cost of a new library building was $15-16 million, which was deemed too costly for the borough.. and for the amount of usage a library in 2023 would receive “We have to answer to everyone”

The business administrator cited County library statistics which showed from 2016-2018, in the County library system they are averaging a 17% drop in circulation, attendance and computer usage.

In Mullica Hill, the computer usage is down 30%!

These facts likely fit into the decisions to move the Glassboro library to a smaller location.

Some residents countered that a modern library has evolved and along with space for books (shelves)… room is needed for Computers/internet, study rooms, 3D printer labs, Community workshops and more.

At this time a blueprint of the library’s layout does not appear to be public, to confirm what the new space will offer.

Close accessible parking is one concern residents are raising regarding the new location of the Glassboro Library.

Parking is another key topic. While the overall complex has significant parking options with the garages, many stated that they are not located close enough to the entrance of the library.

The library is used by all members of the public including elderly and disabled, whom it was stated need closer parking and dedicated handicap spots.

Glassboro says they own a nearby lot which will be used as parking temporarily.

One resident stated that if ADA compliant parking was not available near the entrance, she would be filing a lawsuit. While I am not an expert on the ADA requirements, the new library unit’s location being situated so close to the corner and busy road.. it could make ADA parking options tough to implement. It’s unclear how that could impact plans for the relocation.

Glassboro Public Library (Location closing soon?)
2 Center St
Glassboro, NJ 08028

NEW Glassboro Public Library (Coming Soon)
101 Rowan Boulevard|
Glassboro, NJ 08028