Return of White Castle in the works

Slyders fans, rejoice. The Planning Board last night gave final approval for plans to bring White Castle back to Rahway. The 36-seat eatery, with a drive-through, is planned along Route 1 north near East Scott Avenue.

A White Castle franchise had been located on the highway closer to Milton Avenue but was relocated several years ago to make way for the Routes 1/9 realignment project.

New Bachmann’s rising on St. Georges

It’s been a busy couple of weeks but I managed to snap a few photos of construction on the new Bachmann’s Tavern.

The project has been taking shape over the past several months. Demolition of the original building, near the corner of St. George’s and West Lincoln avenues, occurred last fall.

Asbestos, tank removal for Bell Building

Contracts totaling nearly $75,000 for asbestos abatement and storage tank removal at the Bell Building, along with a change-order for the removal of a storage tank at the former Hamilton Laundry site were approved by City Council earlier this month. Contracts went to AWT Environmental Services, DIA General Construction of Clifton, and Warren-based Whitestone Associates.

A banner at the Hamilton Laundry site proclaims a spring 2010 timeline for a 1,000-seat amphitheater. A black box theater and performing arts space is planned for the Bell Building while the neighboring Shami Apartment are eyed for senior/artists’ housing.

The house adjacent to the Hamilton Laundry site was acquired by the Redevelopment Agency and scheduled to close in December, but Agency attorney Frank Regan reported that the owner has been unable to vacate tenants, which was one of the conditions of closing, and may need to proceed with eviction, but not until the end of this month.

Townhomes rise on Lennington Street

Townhomes are taking shape on the site of the former Lennington Tea House property, behind the Best Western off Routes 1/9 north. Several can be seen in the photo to the left, while the foundation for the remaining units can be seen below (which is to the left of the pictured units).

The project broke ground sometime last spring with an anticipation of 18 months for construction. The three-quarter acre site sold last May for $800,000, according to Signs near Route 1 and East Milton Avenue advertising “custom waterfront townhouses” indicate a starting price of $390,000. Each unit will have two bedrooms, with a one-car garage and one parking space.

The builder, Colonia-based GMM Associates, also has constructed four new homes on Sterling Place and rehabbed several others in Rahway. The Planning Board gave initial approval for the redevelopment project at 1797 Lenington St. (Block 353, Lot 2) in late 2006 (.pdf).

The revenge of Rahway Pizza

Call it the revenge of Rahway Pizza. Our first poll on the best pizza in Rahway had some glaring omissions, namely Rahway Pizza and Papa Vito, so we decided to try again since it’s been a year, and we have more readers (or so Google Analytics tells me).

Continue reading The revenge of Rahway Pizza

Renaissance demolition coming

Demolition of existing properties could begin as early as this month to make way for Renaissance at Rahway.

Redevelopment Agency attorney Frank Regan said last week’s agency meeting that developers have to close on financing by Friday, and assuming they do, demolition is anticipated later this month.

The 88-unit complex will eliminate Montgomery Street between East Grand Avenue and Monroe Street, eliminating the triangle. The City Council on Monday night approved vacating Montgomery Street and details on a revised access scheme for the neighboring Riverton complex is being worked out, Regan said.

Properties include the former Triangle Inn (at left in photo above) and a house next door that was badly damaged in a fire at least a year ago. An adjacent property, 239 E. Grand Ave. has a poster hanging in the window against eminent domain (left). The only property that was not acquired for the project was 273-275 E. Grand Ave., which is the MJ Bait and Tackle at the end of the triangle block.

Originally proposed as a 72-unit condo complex, developers got approval last summer from the Redevelopment Agency to switch to rentals. The Planning Board gave its approval in the fall.

Progress on Park Square streetscape

It looks like there’s some progress along Irving Street in front of Park Square, as concrete has begun to be poured for a new sidewalk.

Occupancy at the 159-unit rental development doesn’t look like it will be “early 2009” as reported earlier. There’s almost 7,000 square feet of retail space planned along the Irving Street side of the four-story complex. Landmark Companies of Keasbey has been in discussions as early as last summer with an optometrist and coffee/tea house.

It’ll be interesting to see what rental prices will be once they finally are occupied. Originally planned for a fall 2008 opening, Park Square rents ranged from $1,600 to $2,375 but that was before Sky View entered the leasing market at $1,250 a month.

Tax appeal settlement approved

City Council approved a tax appeal settlement Monday night with Carriage City Properties. Details on the settlement can be found in this earlier post.

Property taxes would be paid whether units are occupied or not, and the developer would be responsible for taxes on any units it owns, said City Administrator/Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier.

During the Feb. 3 pre-meeting conference of City Council, Third Ward Councilman Jerry Scaturo raised the issue of Carriage City Properties leasing its unsold units. Sky View began marketing a lease-to-buy option, starting at $1,250 a month for one-bedroom units.

Pelissier said it’s not a concern from the standpoint of wanting to see people moving into the community. “It’s better than having…units sitting empty,” he said. If the units are occupied, the $10,000 fee owed to the Redevelopment Agency should be paid, said Pelissier, adding that the agency is seeking is a formal request from the developer to clarify the redevelopment agreement. Originally the developer, Elizabeth-based Silcon Group., was to pay the $10,000 fee upon closing of each unit.

About 57 units have closed at Sky View, according to the Parking Authority records, while the Redevelopment Agency has been paid for 46 units and 78 temporary certificates of occupancy (TCO) have been issued by the city, Pelissier said. It’s unclear how many units are rented, he said. The 16-story complex has more than 200 units in all.
By my count, about 48 units have sold (less than a quarter) at an average of almost $292,000, a high of $444,000 and a low of $216,350 (which happens to be the most recent sale I’m aware of).