Amphitheater bids to be awarded next week

Construction bids for the amphitheater and black box theater were opened Dec. 15 and likely will be awarded by the Redevelopment Agency at its Jan. 5 meeting.

The City Council recently awarded a contract of $5,750 to Whitestone Associates to conduct survey and prepare report of “asbestos containing materials” at 324-326 Hamilton St., one of several homes that are planned to be acquired and razed for the project. The Redevelopment Agency last summer authorized acquisition of the 2 1/2-story home for $240,000, and the City Council OKed another $160,000 for asbestos surveys and other engineering-related work.

Construction bids had to be re-bid after a judge ruled there was some ambiguity in the original bids this past fall. The Redevelopment Agency originally awarded a nearly $5-million bid in October. The City Council last spring approved borrowing a $8.5 million for the Hamilton Street arts projects.

Little Portugal ‘coming soon’ to former Nile space

A restaurant called Little Portugal is “coming soon” to the former home of The Back Porch and The Original Nile.
Continue reading Little Portugal ‘coming soon’ to former Nile space

Improvements spotted at Kings Inn

It looks like some long-awaited improvements got under way this month at the Kings Inn Motel that ultimately will turn it into a Super 8.

It’s been almost a year since the Redevelopment Agency reassigned the redevelopment agreement on the site along Route 1&9. The plan at that time was to turn the building into a Motel 6 but is now back to a Super 8.

Director of Community Development Cynthia Solomon confirmed that the permits have all been approved but no word on a timeline for completion.

A Howard Johnson had been planned to replace the Kings Inn two years ago before that plan fell through and at one point there was a proposal for an addition as a Super 8. (Thanks to all the eagle-eyed readers who tipped me off to the activity at the Kings Inn site.)

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A story in NJ Biz last month detailed how a Newark nonprofit uses GPS-based bar code system to allow staff, and the public, to send alerts on damaged downtown improvements. It also can “help users locate parking garages, stores, restaurants and parks in the area.”

New poll: Best Chinese

It’s been awhile since we had a poll and since Christmas is almost here, this one seemed timely and appropriate:

What’s your favorite Chinese restaurant/eatery?
Dragon Palace
Hunan Kitchen
Ming Feng
New Fon Garden
New Great Wall
Panda China
No. 1 Chinese Kitchen

For the sake of the poll, Chinese is meant to encompass all Asian cuisine (Japanese, Korean, etc.). Hope that’s OK with everybody. Let me know if there’s any place that I’ve missed that you think should be included the poll.

Maybe next month we’ll come back with the pizza poll which has been popular. And I’m always open to suggestions for future polls.

Aromalicious by Christmas

A Portuguese bakery and cafe is coming to East Cherry Street within the next week. Aromalicious will be open by Christmas, according to the signs in the windows of 85 E. Cherry St. Renovations had been ongoing at the site since the summer.

Readers of the blog often have expressed a desire for a local bakery downtown. The results of the Rahway Survey from several years ago indicated support for a bakery, among other things, and there was quite a discussion about a bakery after Drug Fair vacated their space on St. Georges Avenue.

International Pastry, now in Clark, was located along East Cherry Street about a decade ago, and not far from this location, American Jubilee, a dessert shop/bakery operated at 88 E. Cherry (most recently an art gallery) until about five years ago.

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Kind of a scary story from The New York Times on Friday (“A ‘Shadow Inventory’ Dampens Winter Market”): A “shadow inventory” of 41 months worth of homes to sell that aren’t even on the market yet because they’re in the foreclosure process. “More northerly, urban parts of the state are in less dire straits.”

Former El Bodegon reopens tonight as Patria

The former El Bodegon reopens tonight as the Patria Restaurant & Mixology Lounge, 169 W. Main St., hosts its grand opening at 8 p.m. after almost 10 months of renovations. It’s the second Rahway restaurant to reopen this month.

Continue reading Former El Bodegon reopens tonight as Patria

Parking prohibitions proposed on Pierpont

A public hearing and final approval of an ordinance that would restrict parking along Pierpont Street will be held during the City Council’s regular meeting on Monday.

The ordinance would allow parking by permit only on Pierpont Street, from West Milton to Maple avenues, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The measure was introduced by the governing body at its Nov. 8 regular meeting.

City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said complaints were received about commuters parking along much Pierpont Street, making it difficult for residents to find parking for their own cars and visitors. Residents were surveyed and only one negative response was received, according to city officials. Residents would get a Parking Authority sticker to place on their cars.

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Jennifer Wenson-Maier said similar restrictions were put in place at Maple Avenue and Pierpont and it’s reasonable to restrict parking at Pierpont and West Milton Avenue. She cited a group home on West Milton and Pierpont which has a lot of staff as well as on-street parking by visiting trucks, and motorists parking close to the corner. “It’s definitely an overparked street. A lot of residents don’t have their own parking,” she said.

Wenson-Maier lives on nearby Bryant Street where parking also was restricted in recent years. “It took some getting used to but it was heavily overparked and it’s better for a majority of the block. It’s a little bit of a hassle but it’s provided some more parking,” she said.