A rendering of Avenue & Green, a 232-unit apartment development at Rahway Avenue and Green Street in Woodbridge — Courtesy: Prism Capital Partners
By Joshua Burd
Former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand will open a new café in downtown Woodbridge, becoming the first retail tenant at a new development by Prism Capital Partners.
According to a news release, the township native and entrepreneur has leased 1,800 square feet at the project at Rahway Avenue and Green Street, which will bring 232 apartments to a site next to the Woodbridge train station. The LeGrand Coffee House will occupy part of the project’s 12,000-square-foot ground-floor commercial space, while serving as the first brick-and-mortar location for a business that launched online earlier this year.
Ripco Real Estate’s Curtis Nassau and Deborah Stone represented the developer, serving as the retail leasing agents for what’s known as Avenue & Green.
“We are excited to welcome Eric and LeGrand Coffee House to Avenue & Green,” said Robert Fourniadis, Prism’s senior vice president for residential. “This property is designed to meet ongoing demand for transit-oriented multifamily, and to provide residents with upscale amenities and in-building conveniences. LeGrand Coffee House will be a perfect fit, offering great refreshments and an inviting gathering place for the entire Woodbridge community.”
Slated for occupancy this summer, the development occupies the former site of an auto dealership, which Prism acquired in 2019 in partnership with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Lucas Family Enterprises. Plans call for a mix of apartments ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, along with amenities such as a community room with a kitchen and bar, a fitness center, an outdoor pool and a patio with grills and fire pits.
The news release said LeGrand, who sustained a life-altering spinal cord injury during a Rutgers game in 2010, noticed the construction taking place at the property last summer and called on Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac to connect him with Prism.
“I lived in a two-family house on Green Street until I was four years old,” LeGrand said. “I thought, why not have my own coffee shop on the street where I was born?”
LeGrand has been working with Belissimo Coffee Advisors to bring the storefront to life, the news release said. In addition to serving beverages made from locally roasted coffee, the shop will offer traditional baked goods, premade sandwiches and salads and specialty items sourced from area businesses.
“I like to say we’re bringing unity to the community with a daily cup of belief,” said LeGrand, who also plans to rent out the space for local events after hours. He added that the design for the coffee house will allow for it to serve the disability community, with a plan that includes a larger space behind the bar to accommodate wheelchair-bound staff and accessible seating for guests.
“I don’t know of many African-American, former Division I football players with a disability running a coffee shop,” LeGrand said. “Being in my situation, I’ve seen and experienced a lot, and we want to make this a welcoming place for everyone.”
Meantime, Fourniadis noted that additional retail leasing opportunities are available for service providers that are compatible with the aesthetic of both the complex and the neighborhood. Prism is looking at tenants such as salons, dry cleaners, delis and restaurants “that add value for our tenants and serve the community,” he said.