The What and the Why
In 2003, JMF’s founder, Joe Forgione, identified a unique and powerful opportunity to revitalize the northern New Jersey town of South Orange through transit-oriented urban redevelopment. To make it work, it would take more than just irresistible new residential and ground floor retail in close proximity to transit. It would require the kind of retail offering that can truly anchor a community. A few weeks later Joe walked into a Garden of Eden gourmet market in Manhattan where he happened upon the owner, Mario Andrianni. Their conversation turned to South Orange.
Would a Manhattan retailer expand into New Jersey? Joe painted his vision: affluent Metro New York and New Jersey commuters returning from work, picking up gourmet prepared foods at a high-end market, and heading home. Area residents utilizing the marketplace as their preferred go-to solution. The next night, Mario and Joe drove across the river to visit the site.
JMF's principal, Joe Forgione, along with multiple partners, facilitated town entitlements that quickly cleared the way for construction on both the new home of Garden of Eden and the adjacent luxurious upscale community— The Avenue at South Orange.
Nine months after that chance meeting in Manhattan, Garden of Eden’s fourth store broke ground. Two years later, Garden of Eden Marketplace welcomed its first customer. In just two years, the property went from a blighted former Shop Rite that yielded no tax revenue to one of the town’s highest revenue-generating commercial properties per square foot. In 2009 New Jersey Future awarded The Avenue at South Orange and Garden of Eden marketplace its annual Smart Growth Award in recognition of how these projects have helped revitalize South Orange’s downtown.