Many locals across the Delaware River Towns were either met with excitement or frustration as developers have begun rolling out extensive plans to renovate the historic Stockton Inn.
Taking the proper precautions, Avon Road Partners sent out over 4,500 letters to residents outlining their plans to reestablish the Inn as a central hub for lodging, entertainment, dining, and much more. Although the development team has maintained that the integrity of the Stockton Inn will be preserved, residents are fearful of the implications this new center will have on quaint Stockton, NJ.
Living directly behind the Stockton Inn, this plan sounds like a nightmare. We don’t need a 1,000 seat amphitheater in the middle of a rural, quiet, residential neighborhood. It will destroy our town.– Local Resident
As quoted from the developer’s introduction to the area, “We respect history. We respect The Stockton Inn as a community touchstone.” Not many locals seem to agree. With plans including a 1,000 person amphitheater, a wellness center, and a hotel, residents are left scratching their heads.
Touting a population of around 615 people, Stockton, NJ, has been renowned for its quaint characteristics, but this has faced change in recent years. Take a drive through Stockton, NJ, on a Friday night, and you’ll see exactly what we mean.
With the Stockton Market blossoming into a popular option for a night out, this charming town’s downtown has become quite congested. Limited parking combined with the rising popularity of Delaware River Towns has put a damper on many who are in love with quiet, small-town life.
This plan is completely inappropriate for the town, its residents and the locale. Traffic at Bridge and 29 is already a nightmare when the Market is in full swing. I cannot imagine how bad it would be with (a) 1,000 person venue, plus restaurant and bar. It’s ridiculous.– Local Resident
For those in tune with the Delaware River Towns, you know it’s fair to say our local towns aren’t new to the presence of outside developers. The recent “renovations” to downtown New Hope, PA, have been met with critical feelings. As word of a luxury hotel replacing the staple that is Fred’s Breakfast spreads, residents plan to gather at New Hope council meetings to figure out exactly how to approach these new developments. Sure, we all love to see our small towns grow, but outside developers seem to be out of touch with the local sense of community.
With that being said, the Stockton Inn development team seems to be trying their best to become ingrained with this tiny River Town. Although these plans are clearly causing a sense of confusion, some residents & businesses in Stockton are ecstatic about the news.
I think this is wonderful and personally, very excited to see that an investor would consider investing in such a project. Would bring entertainment, culture and growth to our area . Yes, traffic and noise needs to be considered but it can be worked out. The traditional hasn’t been successful so I’m happy to see thinking outside the box!– Local Resident
The Stockton Inn has been up for sale for two years with little to no interest from buyers due for a number of reasons. Past attempts to revamp the current status of the Inn have unfortunately failed, time and time again. Regardless of past guests ranging from locals to Shania Twain, the Stockton Inn has taken a plunge into irrelevancy. This leaves the question for Stocktonians:
What Do You Want To See Done With the Stockton Inn?
Although the Delaware River Towns have become unexpected destinations for tourists, we are doing our best to remain open-minded to the idea of renovation. It’s hard to imagine how Stockton’s parking situation will pan out, but this doesn’t mean the Stockton Inn should remain vacant for years to come. Significant changes have arrived at our hidden gems, and the frustration of locals is evident. But, with the proper plans in place, the growth of our towns can be exciting.
Now it’s time to hear more from the people who matter most, the Delaware River Town locals.
Travis Michael Boyd
This disgusts me to my core! I have spent most my life in these river towns. My great grandmother lived in Stockton and so did I. These tourists and builders are coming into our quiet towns and ruining them! Like Frenchtown and New Hope. My great grandfather worked at the Stockton inn. It is a Historic building for us locals.
I’m not at all “confused” by the proposal. It is an outlandish, inflated proposal from a vulture developer with a history of placing casinos in places that don’t want them, country towns that are then sued by the firm to get what they want, or something near it. Then they sell out, even to foreign investors. This is not what Stockton needs. Also not “confusing” is the fact that it has remained empty for a couple of years, since the current owner lost interest and put a price multiple millions of dollars higher than any reason could support. Many people have wanted to bring the Inn back to life, but could not afford that initial investment. The Inn has been successful for generations, only greed is keeping it from continuing. I’m not “confused” at all.
Hello, R.S.T. You have a lot of insight about what is really happening with these shady developers. I am currently trying to stop a major development that has been proposed to be built in our community park (Morrisville PA, a Delaware Rivertown also). I was wondering if you could send me any useful articles or share any knowledge with me on the subject, such as the suing country towns, and selling out to foreign investors, and what that means will happen to the towns, inevitably .
It would be helpful for me to persuade the municipality against any of these proposed developments.
Most people are horrified, that is not an option in your second survey. It just ask if you are frustrated or confused? Or too early? I mean, what about plainly horrified, or against?
I grew up in Hunterdon County and we currently reside in Solebury. What I have seen over the 15 years of living in New Hope borough and now Solebury is that with new construction comes criticism before even hearing out the new builders. I have also seen an increase in property values, more culture and entertainment to our TOURIST towns. We want and need new, lively businesses. This one will thrive. So before throwing stones, let’s hear them out. I for one am happy and excited.
You know the site, and yet you mention nothing about noise, congestion, environmental degradation, and the likelihood of condemnation of multiple homes and businesses by the state highway department, as they will need to create a bypass or widen Route 29. We who live here are not excited.
Stop playing the contrarian that fears improvement and progress. Grasping at how things “used to be” is a frivolous pursuit. Accept that places modernize and try to work with, vs. against, people trying to make the town better.
The ultimate property value is peace, quiet and community. We don’t want tourists and we don’t want lively business. A really great farm to table restaurant is all that we want.
I agree with you John, this is a bit of a historical site, I was there on the day they had to shut down. But no one can afford it bc of how high the property taxes are to keep it running. I don’t want it turned into a complex and/or apartments by any means and hope someone that can afford it, buys it. Otherwise it’ll be destroyed and ruined. I don’t want that.
I am concerned about concert parking. It seems inadequate for 1,000 seat venue. I would welcome a wellness center, for who is opposed to wellness?
I have no empathy for people who would rather see a wonderful old building decay than have the necessary financial infusion to bring it back to relevance. Time is not on the side of any vacant building, especially one that is 200+ years old.
This is different than the Penn East Pipeline land grab. It is obvious which side of that issue people that live in the track of that project would be on. However, The Stockton Inn project argument is more nuanced .
It will be interesting to see how this evolves.
Not sure this is different than Penneast. The developer wants to landgrab Stockton Park for Parking. The environmental impact of 500 cars a weekend on the roads, air, noise, oil leaks in the park…. This is all around a bad idea. An outdoor venue will be heard all over town 2 to 3 days a week. Goodbye peace and quiet.
In addition to damage to the old Inn, I am very concerned about what is proposed for the corner of Route 29 and Route 529. The illustration seems to show a significant hill being leveled, and probably the old houses in that area demolished. There is more to this plan than just the Inn.
When the state decides that Route 29 needs widening and/or a bypass, multiple homes and businesses will be condemned and razed. No longer will Stockton be a historical reminder of the importance of this region to the nascent USA.
I truly believe this is a fantastic idea. I have lived in Stockton my whole life. My entire family goes back several generations in this little town. We need to progress with the times, and start doing things that will bring real life back into this one horse town. People are turning this into a Union Hotel situation, and many of the faces on the page that are fighting change failed miserably with the Union Hotel. It is 2021, it is time for real change.
If you actually live in Stockton, you’ll be cussing out the tourists soon enough.
Donna, I’m not sure that you’re thinking this through. You are literally not going to be able to back out of your driveway on main street with the traffic. If you’re yearning for change, you may to move out of Stockton. We don’t want change. It’s nearly perfect just the way it is at this exact moment.
This is an awful idea. You don’t build a huge venue like this in the middle of a town of 615 people, right in the middle of a residential area- destroying a historic and beloved landmark. If they wanted something this huge and gauche there are plenty of empty spaces closer to Flemington or the highways toward New Hope/Lambertville that aren’t forest, farm, or residential. This should not be in the middle of town, it would literally ruin the entire town. I grew up in Stockton, outside the borough, I’ve known this town my entire life and I can guarantee the outcry for this will be immense in the area. There will be boycotts and protests. Just look what we’ve done with the PennEast Pipeline. Small towns fight fiercely for what they have.
Just going to add– There are ways to renovate historic landmarks and make things “modern” without completely ruining it with a stereotypical and doomed to fail capitalist agenda. This particular plan shows 0% heart, or creativity, or genuineness. A 1k amphitheater, for example is not a smart idea for an area where only 615 people live. I saw someone mention capitalizing on the farm-to-table dining experience that’s in high demand right now. Something along those lines, and how they renovated the store into the current “Market”. These ideas have potential for profit without ruining the entire town. Small town chic is in, why not capitalize on it instead of trying to force a tiny river town into something so Bourgeoisie? It’s only going to alienate the majority of the town.
There are MANY other options. This is not the answer.
Also going to ask, is the Inn technically a historic landmark, if so, how can they even do this? And if not, why not and how can we make it one officially? Don’t we have a historic preservation society or something that should be up in arms right now?
So sad….a small hotel with a wishing well….My thought would be to have it become a historic site, it could house some sort of museum and small cafe, tell much of the local history of an area. Nothing I like better when I travel then learning about the history of an area, it’s commerce, the people who made their livelihoods there…so many folks have memories growing up in the area. I paid for my college tuition in the early 70’s waitressing at the inn, carrying big heavy trays up those back patios! Even considered getting married there…All the reporters and folks who stayed there during the Lindbergh trial…there is lot’s of wonderful history that could be shared. Without ruining this beautiful building it could be come profitable as some sort of historic site…I am not an expert, but I am not interested in going to a big concert in an ugly building in the middle of Stockton!
I remember coming down for a weekend from NY in the ‘50’s to visit my father-in-law, R.A.D. Miller in Phillips Mill, Solebury Twp., PA. By the way , in the ‘30’s, RAD Miller did the major part of the murals in the old dining rooms that people love and enjoy. (Bob Hogue and Kurt Weiss were the other artists). The weekend wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t go for dinner at the Inn. It was the best . The Colligan brothers, Charlie and Bill were fantastic Inn keepers. They greeted everyone with great enthusiasm like you were family they hadn’t seen for awhile. It was the place everyone went and mostly all locals from the area on both sides of the river. All the dining rooms were full and the food and service was great. The brothers, especially Charlie, ran the Inn like the Captain of a ship. It was always a joy to for dinner or lunch at the Inn. Enjoying lunch or dinner by the waterfall in the spring and summer ,was also so special. It was everyone’s favorite restaurant. We have a lot of fine restaurants in our River valley, but all the people coming to our community to spend a getaway weekend come to enjoy our “”quiet”. (not too quiet anymore) historic river towns to go to our farmers markets, Antique shops, art galleries, stay in our inns and B’nB’s, and enjoy lunch and dinner at our beautiful historic country Inns. The last owner was so wrong for the Inn, turning all the locals away, and then put it on the market for $8m with a Billboard showing his idea of rediculous development all around the inn. We all looked at his idea as totally impossible to ever happen, as we thought zoning would never permit it. I’ve been in real estate for 40 years in our area, and I’ve always heard that Stockton couldn’t really expand too much because their water and sewer plant couldn’t support it. If
that’s still true, how could they allow this over the top idea for redevelopment of The Inn and surrounding buildings. As in most proposals before a Boro Council or Township Supervisors, traffic studies , noise levels, water drainage and environmental issues all have to be taken into consideration. These studies take time and would have to pass to be approved. Let’s hope it never does. I can tell you as a realtor for all these years that your property values in Stockton would NOT go up if this comes to fruition. It would destroy the quality of life for all in the community and across the river. The noise would be unbearable every weekend or more. Forget enjoying a quiet dinner outside in the summer. So very sad when I see what’s happening to our charming historic river towns especially New Hope.
What is being proposed by this developer is completely inappropriate for the small river town of Stockton. Noise, pollution, traffic and parking issues will irrevocably change this charming gem of a town for the worse. Restore the Inn. An amphitheater in this tiny river town is preposterous.
My family and the Colligans were close when Charlie and Jean were alive. My sister babysat the boys and learned to drive in Charlie Colligan’s cadillac. We went swimming in the small pool at their house. Charlies gave me permission to target shoot my .22 behind their house. When Cassius Clay knocked down Sonny Liston we listened to the radio at their house. Colligans Inn was a great and fun place for dinner. We would go every couple of months, when mom had some extra money. The two St. Bernards roamed the halls , and there were the deer in the back, and then there was the town bar for the local adults. And the wishing well with the coins and the snapping turtles. The garden bar had silver dollars inlaid in the bar top. Boy did I want some of those ! I can’t figure out why the place can’t be renovated and re-opened to be like it was when Charlie and Bill ran it. It seemed to be a very busy place on weekends, and the town bar would probably do some business during the week. Maybe the money earned from selling food and drinks isn’t enough to pay the bills these days.
It’s interesting to read these comments from people who may not have ever lived in Stockton, or lived there for a while, or maybe “forever.” Ive looked for a name I recognize but haven’t seen one yet. I know who was a life long resident and who was not. For perspective, I had two paper routes one in the morning before school and the evening paper. I guess you could say I knew EVERYONE in town. Chester Errico was the mayor and owned the grocery store on Bridge St. Suozzo’s market was on Main St. next to the old Post Office, of which my Grandfather was Postmaster. He eventually got the new Post Office built next to the canal. My sister and I went to Stockton School. I think my last year there in sixth grade was 1957, maybe ’58. My sixth grade class was the biggest in school history at that time, I think there were six of us. There were three teachers and three classrooms obviously more than one class per room. At the time Charlie and Bill Colligan ran the place, Charlie more so than Bill. It was a great place and a perfect fit for Stockton. We lived on Railroad Ave and back then the train tracks were still there and the trains were running. During the summer a carnival would come to town and set up on Railroad Ave. All we had to do was walk out our front door. If someone wants to bring Colligans back to what is was back in the day, Im for it 100% and think most life-long Stockton folks would be for it. But the proposed development would in my opinion be a very bad thing, bye-bye Stockton.