The Supagown will need a new home

Well, I guess that was the last photo I’ll ever have to take of the Hamilton Laundry building. The main structure on Hamilton Street — the one that had “Hamilton Laundry” emblazoned on it, as well as the peculiar “Home of the Supagown” — was razed this morning, completing the demolition that started last week.

All that’s left are piles of rubble to haul away. Now if we could just figure out what the “Supagown” is/was…

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Democrats might be in Denver, but the Libertarians — check that, the Libertarian is in Rahway tonight, at Luciano’s. Happy Labor Day weekend!

More Hamilton Laundry photos

Another of the Hamilton Laundry buildings went down late last week. The demolition of the two-story building exposed the lower part the adjoining four-story building, showing what appears to be a sign about fur storage. We can add that to last month’s list of old downtown signs. Get your “Home of the Supagown” photos while you still can.

It was six years ago this month that then-Sen. Jon Corzine made the Hamilton Laundry one of his stops on a tour of Rahway. That’s when plans still called for an arts center and independent film theater. Due to flooding at the site last spring, the Hamilton Laundry site instead will be turned into a park and outdoor amphitheater by next fall.

Other interesting items that a simple Internet search yields about Hamilton Laundry includes these alleged OSHA violations from eight years ago.

It’s really coming down

The demolition of Hamilton Laundry finally began with the property now surrounded by construction fencing and the first structure (behind the main building, which is to the left in the photo above) razed this week. Demolition is expected to last several weeks.

When we last left the Hamilton Laundry saga, the City Council awarded a new contract of $370,000 about a month ago to Meco Demolition. For previous posts about Hamilton Laundry, click here.

Appraisal for Shami Apartments

The Redevelopment Agency this month authorized an appraisal for the Shami Apartments on Hamilton Street.

The last appraisal, which pegged the property at about $2 million, was done several years ago and had to be updated, according to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier. The building is part of the plan to create about 80 units of affordable housing for seniors and artists while the adjacent Bell Building will become a black box theater and performing arts space.

Demolition of the nearby Hamilton Laundry building, where a park and amphitheater are planned, is expected in the coming weeks. Of the five houses near the Hamilton Laundry, only one directly next door is proposed to be acquired, according to Redevelopment Agency Attorney Frank Regan.

Units begin to close at Sky View

There have been 34 temporary certificates of occupancy (TCO) issued for units at Sky View at Carriage City Plaza, according to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier. Elizabeth-based Silcon Construction, which built the hotel, has paid $649,000 in water connection and permit fees, Pelissier reported at last week’s City Council pre-conference meeting.

Continue reading Units begin to close at Sky View

Study to evaluate parking deck, needs

A consultant will evaluate downtown parking needs, including the feasibility of constructing a deck on Lot B (behind East Cherry Street) and adding two levels to the Main Street deck. A preliminary report to the Parking Authority is expected by the end of the year.

Until the residential housing meltdown of the last several years, the parking deck at Lot B (photo, below left) was to be part of The Westbury by Dornoch, which is also constructing The Savoy. Original plans included a 324-space, five-story parking deck, 150 condos and 17,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

Instead, the Parking Authority and the city will take the lead on the Lot B garage. City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said the developer would be back-charged for each unit that would require a space in the deck. Changes also will require renegotiations to the redevelopment agreement with Dornoch, which could take several months, said Redevelopment Agency attorney Frank Regan.

Developers have spent about $5.5 million in recent years to assemble properties for The Westbury project, according to Regan. That total could surpass $7 million once they acquire the Greek-American Deli on Main Street and a Parking Authority parcel, he added, and so the project has simply become too cost prohibitive to put together at this point.

In an interview after last week’s Parking Authority meeting, Chairman Matt Dobrowolski said there’s already been discussion with the city administration about a possible third location for a parking deck. “We’re looking long-term, not just the Dornoch project,” he said. Adding two levels at the Main Street deck (photo, right) is more difficult with Carriage City Plaza now constructed, he said, but they have the ability to do it although it won’t solve the Lot B issue.

The Main Street deck took about a year to erect and Dobrowolski expects the same timeline with the Lot B deck. Opened in December 2004, the six-story, 524-space deck cost $11 million — $3 million of which is to be paid back to NJ Transit.

Some street parking to be restored

After meeting with the Traffic Bureau on Monday, City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said areas around downtown have been identified to restore some parking spaces lost after two-way traffic was established. He estimated between 20 and 30 spaces might return and it would happen as soon as signage and striping can be completed, which he said could be a couple of weeks. About 40 spaces were lost initially.

Some of the parking spaces to be restored include two to three spots on East Milton just under the train tracks and on Main Street opposite the retail stores, where one owner said his business has dropped off by as much as 50 percent since on-street parking was eliminated.

In an interview after last week’s City Council pre-meeting conference, Pelissier also mentioned other long-term possibilities to address downtown parking: something on Coach Street to accommodate the arts center, and the corner of Elizabeth Avenue and Main Street, which currently houses a construction trailer for the Park Square project.

Changes in the Parking Authority’s rates that took effect Aug. 1 include the first 30 minutes free in the Main Street deck.

Renaissance bumped up to 88 units

With two more properties acquired since May, developers of Renaissance at Rahway have boosted the number of units from about 64 to 88. Representatives came before the Redevelopment Agency Wednesday night for approval.

In May, Rahway Rising reported that Renaissance had acquired five of the eight properties necessary and would move ahead with 64 rental units and possibly include a second phase once other properties were secured. Developers have since acquired Lots 5 and 8 of Block 379, leaving only Lot 1 (the corner of Monroe Street and East Grand Avenue). The revised project entails Lots 2 to 8.

Originally, the project was to be 72 condos, an even split of one- and two-bedroom units. Now the project will be 88 rental units (80 two-bedroom, 8 one-bedroom) in the five-story structure, with 88 parking spaces on the ground level.

Redevelopment Agency commissioners had some concerns about having enough parking (only one per unit, regardless of bedrooms) and whether parking would be covered (the property creates a triangle in the center of the building where spaces in the middle might be uncovered), but ultimately gave their consent. Commissioners preferred the parking be covered but developers are considering both schemes.

Entrance to the residences will be at the corner of Montgomery Street and East Grand Avenue, though it will no longer be a corner since the development includes building over Montgomery Street from East Grand to Monroe. Parking will be accessed from Monroe, near the present corner of Montgomery, essentially where the former Triangle Inn currently stands.