Downtown redevelopment threatens Bagel Bin closure


Matt Lesnik

Photo of Bagel Bin building in Olcott Square in Bernardsville.

Located in Olcott Square, the beloved Bagel Bin has been serving the community for the past 30 years, as their doors first opened on December 15, 1992.

Now, with plans for redevelopment in downtown Bernardsville, Bagel Bin faces the potential of losing their lease, which is set to expire in 2022. The project is described as the “‘revitalization of downtown Bernardsville.”

After having been open for three decades, Bagel Bin has faced numerous setbacks. This includes having to shut down their parking lot due to sidewalk replacements, the Mount Airy Road project, Hurricane Sandy and COVID-19. However, this has been their biggest and most heartbreaking challenge yet.

In an article from the Bernardsville News titled, “Palmer properties eyed for redevelopment in Bernardsville,” editor, Charlie Zavalick explained the plans being formed.

Zavalick explained that on January 10 it was unanimously decided, that the “Planning Board was authorized to undertake “an investigation’’ to determine whether the adjoining properties, 35 and 39 Olcott Square and 5 Morristown Road, should be designated a “non-condemnation redevelopment’’ area.”

Palmer Enterprises owns three properties with adjoining lots located at 39 Olcott Square, 35 Olcott Square and 5 Morristown Road.

Chief executive officer of Advance Realty Investors of Bedminster, Peter Cocoziello has been working with the owners of the properties on their plans. Zavalick explained, “Advance has already been awarded approval by the borough to handle the ambitious redevelopment project known as Quimby Village in the downtown business area.”

Additionaly, “Mayor Canose said she and other borough officials met with Cocoziello and were shown a rough draft of the project. She said 73 housing units are proposed with 102 parking spaces on the 1.5-acre tract.”

In hopes to keep the business alive, a petition, “Save The Businesses of Downtown Bernardsville,” was created by Corey Lewis. At the time of writing, the petition had a total of 1,634 signatures.

Lewis made it apparent that the building owners have “had absolutely no communication with us or their other tenants about the fate of our businesses and our future.” Furthermore, Lewis expressed a fear that, “ most of the businesses will be displaced by new condominiums.”

Subsequent to receiving the news, “feelings went from shock to heartbreak.” Lewis continued to express that “this is the wrong way to treat any lessee. It feels like an incredibly unfortunate fate for a business that has been an integral part of the community for the past 30 years.”

The establishment has been a welcoming location where the owners/employees saw “customers [become] friends, as [they] watched them move into the community, raise their families, and send their children to college.”

As it is still uncertain as to what lies ahead regarding the revitalization project, Lewis added, “when we look around town, there is nowhere else for us to go.”