KC Jazz construction: 6 to 9 months

Construction at KC Jazz restaurant could take anywhere from six to nine months and should start soon, according to developer Casey Granieri, who’s waiting for construction bids.

The former Kelly’s Pub building at Seminary Avenue and Irving Street received Planning Board approval (.pdf) last July. The renovated structure will have a capacity of about 100 people and feature a 1,400-square-foot patio and distinctive 37-foot tower. The second floor will include two two-bedroom apartments.

To celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary, the Rahway Center Partnership will sponsor a block party on East Cherry Street Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lennington Street project to break ground

Developers expect to break ground on a three-story, 13-unit townhouse complex on Lennington Street in the next month. Construction on Riverview Manor is expected to take 18 months or less. The current structure, commonly referred to as the Lennington Tea House and located at the end of Lennington Street, will be demolished.

The Planning Board Tuesday night gave approval for a minor variance for front/side yard setback, though the main hold-up to construction had been the state Department of Environmental Protection’s waterfront development permit. The state required a public access of some kind to the Rahway River, so there will be a 30-foot public easement and several public parking spaces. Public access will be contiguous from this property to a proposed Sleep Inn (.pdf) motel across the street.

Each two-bedroom unit will have a one-car garage and one parking space and is expected to be on the market in the $400,000 range. The homes will be some 40 feet from the Rahway River and two feet above — and out of — the flood zone, according to Dave Miele of GMM Associates.

GMM Associates also has constructed four new homes and rehabilitated a third, three-family home on Sterling Place (between Brookfield Place and East Hazelwood Avenue) and rehabilitated another on Main Street.

A Super 8 fit for a king

The Kings Inn — the motel on Routes 1&9 South with the distinctive tower that once appeared in a popular early ’90s rap video (look for it at about 1:26 of 4:26) — will become a Super 8 and part of the Wyndham hotel chain after renovations and an addition.

Preliminary plans presented before the Redevelopment Agency at its April 9 meeting indicated the structure would be renovated to hold 44 rooms — eight fewer than the current 52 — with a four-story addition that would include another 43 rooms (for total of 87), along with an area connecting the two. The tower will not remain.

Diversified Communities, developers of the adjacent Riverwalk townhouses, had been in discussions to build another 36 to 40 units on the motel property, but those plans eventually proved too costly because of environmental issues.

The Kings Inn, which was raided by police about a year ago (.pdf), is among a number of typical Route 1 motels getting a makeover or replaced altogether. The Best Western on Paterson Street was built a few years ago, and a new Sleep Inn (.pdf) is planned on the adjacent vacant lot which used to be home to the Village Inn.

Thanks to The Contrarian for info on the Kings Inn’s music video history, and some more links to other police activity at the motel.

More renovations on Main Street

The owner of a three-story building on Main Street (1500 Main St. LLC) has plans to give the structure a facelift, including new signage, lights and facade.

The current tenants of the building at 1505-07 Main St. — a Chinese takeout eatery and a beauty supply store — are expected to remain. The top two floors of the building, located at the end of East Cherry Street, currently contain vacant office space but will become two-bedroom, loft-style apartments, one on each floor with rent ranging from $1,400 to $1,600, according to Cynthia Solomon, director of community development.

Plans were presented to the Redevelopment Agency at its meeting April 9 and are expected to come before the Planning Board in the next few months.

The building is next to the former offices of Dornoch — builders of The Savoy and The Westbury — which renovated that space last year before moving. Prior to Dornoch, that property was home to Reggie’s Roast, a coffee shop and distributor, until about 2005.

Retail at Park Square by summer?

Retail space at Park Square could be ready by this summer — specifically June or July — if a new sign (below) at the construction site is accurate. The four-story project is slated to have about 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, along with off-street parking, and 159 one-and two-bedroom rental apartments.

Landmark Companies, which broke ground at the former Cliff Hardware site in October 2006, is beginning the second phase of Park Square, essentially a similar structure on the Main Street side of the property. The developer also will fund the cost of burying the utilities, City Administrator/Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said last week.


For those who’ve asked about how the new traffic patterns might affect Hot Rods and Harleys (May 17; rain date May 24), they aren’t expected to, according to Ray Mikell, executive director of the Rahway Center Partnership.

The event is bigger again this year, starting at Jaques Avenue and West Milton Avenue and proceeding to Main Street before heading all the way to the arts center. He also mentioned the Rahway survey, which has closed, is being tabulated and he should have an update to share within the next month.

A Rahway by any other name…

This photo has nothing to do with today’s post but I finally got an updated photo of the Fulton-Irving street realignment as promised. As you can see, it was a race against the sunset too.

An idea to change the name of the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority to disassociate it from Rahway because of the skyrocketing bills the past few years has been dropped. The RVSA plant is located in Rahway and handles wastewater for the city and a number of surrounding towns.

It’s been almost 20 years since the name of Rahway State Prison was changed to East Jersey State Prison, and most people still associate it with Rahway — especially out-of-towners. The old Rahway Valley Railroad has nothing to do with Rahway and in fact goes nowhere near the city.

With the changes going on in Rahway these days, maybe it’s time the city changes its name, rather than these other entities changing theirs? A few Garden State towns have tried to change their names in a quick-fix effort to change their perception. Two that come to mind were South Orange trying to become South Mountain (disassociate with the other Oranges in the process) and West Paterson trying to drop the Paterson from its name. And no, they weren’t going to be called simply “West” but I can’t recall what they came up with; something associated with Garret Mountain perhaps. It happens in business too; see Phillip Morris and Altria Group.

Rahway once was called Spanktown (which everyone gets a kick out of for obvious reasons). OK, so changing the city’s name is just a silly idea — who’s got the money to waste changing all those Parkway and Turnpike signs, for starters — but maybe you have some suggestions, for conversation’s sake?


Those of you who still hold out hope for a brewpub downtown, grab a pint and check out this New York Times piece in the meantime. The Times‘ list of Jersey brewpubs includes a number of towns that Rahway aspires to be, in the sense of a thriving, walkable downtown at least: Montclair, New Brunswick, Princeton, Red Bank, South Orange. Coincidence? I think not…

New and improved arts center? No thanks.

A $6-million overhaul and expansion apparently won’t be enough to draw Rahway Rising readers to the Union County Performing Arts Center. If our recent poll is any indication, half of readers likely won’t be checking it out, only a quarter of them will “probably” go, and a scant handful are definites to be there.

Are you more likely to go to the Union County Performing Arts Center since it expanded?
Doubt it. Neil Sedaka and Engelbert Humperdinck just don’t do it for me. 50 percent (37/73)
Probably. The new productions look interesting. 26 percent (19/73)
Nah. I don’t have any interest. 17 percent (13/73)
Definitely. Can’t get enough of that Connie Francis. 5 percent (4/73)

The 73 votes cast in the poll easily beat the previous high of 58 votes in a poll about feeling safe downtown.

Readers weighed in on what kind of programming they’d like to see at the arts center in a previous poll in January. Comedy and concerts were the leaders in that poll, followed by plays, but there were only 25 votes cast back then. Of course, any of the RR polls are completely unscientific.

Like most arts centers, UCPAC is considered a draw for downtown and the expansion – which included the $1.3-million sale to the county – was an effort to try to boost that, making it an integral part of redevelopment efforts, along with the other arts district initiatives.

I get the impression from some that the programming just isn’t what they’re looking for. As one reader put it: there’s too much programming aimed at the “blue hair” demographic. Are readers going elsewhere for the arts? Do you prefer other places in the area, like NJPAC, Paper Mill, State Theatre or Count Basie? Is there too much competition? Maybe readers just aren’t the artsy types? As Coffee Talk’s Linda Richman would say: Discuss.

As we approach the six-month mark of the blog, check out the latest poll and let us know how we’re doing.

Realignment pushed back to May 1

The realignment and signalization of Irving-Fulton streets is now expected by May 1, City Administrator/Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said after Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Originally ahead of schedule for the first week of April, the Irving-Fulton realignment will be the first step in a series of changes to downtown traffic flow. Two-way traffic on Irving and Main streets is scheduled to change on or around May 15 and before that happens, three streets will reverse their one-way directions: Coach, East Cherry and Poplar, which will change from two-way to one-way.

The Irving-Fulton realignment was part of the approval for the hotel, which is scheduled to open June 1. Two open houses at the end of last month yielded some 20 pending contracts on units at SkyView at Carriage City Plaza, according to a spokesman for Silcon Group, which is constructing the project.

For those feeling nostalgic about what the Irving-Fulton intersection looked like before the project, above right, is a photo taken from December (I haven’t had time to take an updated shot — or post much lately, but hopefully I can catch up in the next week).