NJ Downtown Placemaking Awards 2021

Downtown New Jersey Placemaking Awards Logo

Each year, Downtown New Jersey recognizes projects, programs, and leaders with Downtown Excellence Awards presented at the annual conference. Do to ongoing public health concerns, we have decided to postpone a full awards program until such time as we can safely meet in-person.

Instead, during our virtual conference in January 2021, we want to recognize excellent placemaking projects and initiatives intended to help small businesses survive and thrive during the shut down and capacity limitations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is placemaking? Placemaking is a people-centered approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Placemaking can be used to improve the spaces that comprise the gathering places within a community—its streets, sidewalks, parks, buildings, and other public spaces—so they invite greater interaction between people and foster healthier, more social, and economically viable communities.

The nomination deadline has passed. Stay tuned for an announcement of the winners.

Session & Awards Program Sponsor

Awards will be presented after the “Placemaking for the Win” conference session on Thursday, January 21, 2021. This conference session is the second of a two-part placemaking series. In October, Isaac Kremer (Metuchen Downtown Association) & Jaime Izurieta (Storefront Mastery) shared advice about innovative “Winning Winter” placemaking strategies. Nominated projects may be highlighted as examples of best practices in this session. Conference information>

Award Eligibility

Eligible projects/initiatives include:
  1. Physical placemaking projects and/or coordination and support for placemaking initiatives that resulted in the implementation of physical projects since March 2020.
    • “Early Action” projects/initiatives are those implemented in the Spring & early Summer of 2020 to support reopening.
    • “Winning Winter” projects/initiatives are those implemented in the Fall & Winter of 2020 to enable businesses to continue operating outdoors in cold weather.
Nominee Categories:
  1. BIDs/SIDs, downtown associations and chambers of commerce, governments, volunteer committees and other organizations that work to make NJ’s downtown districts great. We recognize that the organizations supporting our downtowns vary in size and resources, which may impact their capacity to implement placemaking projects. Accordingly, projects will be evaluated based on organization size.
    • Volunteer Organization (all volunteer/no paid staff dedicated to downtown initiatives)
    • Small Organization (2 or fewer paid staff dedicated to downtown initiatives)
    • Medium Organization (3 – 9 paid staff dedicated to downtown initiatives)
    • Large Organization (10+ paid staff dedicated to downtown initiatives)
  2. Individual merchant/property manager-driven projects will be considered under their own nominee category.

Review Criteria

Awards will be given to exemplary placemaking projects/initiatives implemented since March 2020 that:

  1. Supported small businesses operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Improved the streetscape or visual appearance of the commercial business district.
  3. Preserved or enhances the character of the downtown environment.
  4. Generated pride in the community.
  5. Drew people to the area.
  6. Demonstrated a coordinated effort by various segments of the community to implement the project.

Submissions Requirements

  • A one-paragraph summary of the project/initiative with quotes from local leaders for a press release (250 word max).
  • A narrative description of the project/initiative addressing the award criteria described above (two pages maximum, PDF file format preferred).
  • A maximum of 10 photos showcasing physical placemaking project(s). (Hi resolution JPEG format. No PDFs or PowerPoints please.)
  • Electronic versions of relevant print materials in support of the nomination (Max of 5 documents of no more than 100MB. PDF or JPEG file formats preferred).
  • Links to any online articles about the placemaking project/initiative.
  • Acknowledge Downtown New Jersey’s permission to use information submitted as a part of this nomination in marketing and presentation materials related to the 2021 New Jersey Downtown Conference and the Placemaking Awards ceremony. (Personal contact information will not be shared publicly.)

The nomination deadline has passed. Stay tuned for an announcement of the winners.

Contact Courtenay Mercer at
info(at)downtownnj.com or 201.472.0356