Plans for Pearl Street parkers include free valet, shuttle service

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — As plans have taken shape to turn the borough’s Pearl Street parking lot into a mixed-use development, a major consideration was the commuters who would be displaced from their usual parking area during construction.

The Pearl Street Piazza project, which is set to include 273 residential units and about 12,000 square feet of retail space, will also incorporate a six-level, 750-space parking deck for residents and commuters.

But, for now, commuters and others who park at the Pearl Street lot must go elsewhere.

“We’re looking at June 1 to start the construction of the garage,” said Mike Ciesielka, president of Nexus Parking, the firm that will build and manage the parking deck, and handle the borough’s interim parking plan.

He added that June 1 will also mark the closure of the Pearl Street lot until the development is completed.

Roseman said after the meeting that the parking deck is expected to be done within a year. Woodmont Properties, the developer of the residential and retail project, did not provide an estimated completion date, he said.

Ciesielka joined Metuchen Parking Authority Chairman Len Roseman at the April 20 Borough Council meeting to share details of the interim parking plan.

The Pearl Street lot accommodates 655 parkers, with 210 metered spaces and 445 permit spaces, Ciesielka said.

In seeking to provide the nearest location to displaced parkers, Nexus identified three lots — one on Halsey Street, one at Lake and Middlesex avenues, and one on Gulton Street off Durham Avenue.

“A majority of the customers are monthlies, so our first goal was to satisfy all residents of Metuchen, monthly customers [and] non-Metuchen resident monthlies,” Ciesielka said. “What we have planned for the Halsey Street lot is to add a valet service and make this facility all monthly parkers.”

Nexus determined that 96 valet spaces can be placed in the aisles of the lot. By changing the 42 metered spaces to monthly spots, a total of 138 monthly customers can be accommodated. Existing monthly parkers there will not be affected, Ciesielka said.

“The valet service actually starts to work when the lot is full,” he said.

Four staff members will be on hand to guide drivers to their valet spots.

“It’s getting them in and out as quick as possible,” Ciesielka said.

An attendant will ask drivers how long they plan to stay and then take their keys and provide a ticket. When drivers are on their way back to the lot, they can call the toll-free number on the ticket so that the lot attendants will have their vehicles ready when they arrive.

The service will be complimentary to monthly parkers.

“We currently do the same type of operation in Metropark,” Ciesielka said of the Iselin station.

Projected hours for the valet service are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but Ciesielka said that could change as customers provide feedback.

The lot at Middlesex and Lake avenues — owned by Renaissance Properties as part of the District at Metuchen project that will house a Whole Foods Market — will also provide monthly parking.

Of 144 total spaces, 63 will be used for valet service, Ciesielka said.

“The Pearl Street monthlies will be moved to this lot,” he said, adding that hangtags for monthly customers will indicate the lot at which they should park.

The Gulton Street lot will accommodate 307 daily parkers with metered spots, including the 42 metered spaces that will be eliminated from the Halsey Street lot.

“It’s 0.7 miles from the Pearl Street facility,” Ciesielka said, adding that it’s a three- to four-minute drive without traffic.

Metered spots will be numbered, and customers will be able to pay for parking through their cellphones or online when they arrive to work, he said.

The price for metered parking will remain the same — $5 per day — but will now include shuttle service to and from Pearl Street near the train station.

“It’s going to be a luxury shuttle,” Ciesielka said.

Housing 40 to 50 passengers, the shuttles will run every 15 to 20 minutes, within five or 10 minutes of train arrivals and departures during peak times. Ciesielka said the schedule may be altered according to need.

In the early weeks of shuttle service, customer service representatives will ride the shuttles to answer questions and guide customers through the process of paying, he said.

In addition, a soon-to-be-launched website,, will provide information on the new parking configuration, and the borough and Nexus will work together to disseminate the information to the public, Ciesielka said.

“I think what’s significant here … is that at all these new locations, there will be live people,” Roseman said. “So somebody isn’t going to drive into the lot and try to figure out, ‘What do I do now?’ ”

Because the Parking Authority does not own the new locations, the council must pass a resolution to allow for police enforcement at the lots.

Roseman, along with Councilman Jay Muldoon, praised the property owners at each of the three new lots for their cooperation and willingness to lease their land to the Parking Authority.

“It’s a partnership between everybody, because understand — when it’s all said and done — we’re all going to reap the benefits,” Ciesielka said. “The biggest thing is that through these trying times if we all work together, these things will work.”