The review gave kudos for some “exciting concepts” as far as the menu — watermelon mojitos and crab cake sliders — and big thumbs up to the desserts, but “for the most part our dinner seemed like a gentrified version of Latin cuisine. It was fine enough, but not as fiery and exciting as the place itself.”
The results of our latest poll are in, and here they are:
The City Council tonight awarded a $30,000 contract for the construction of an interim parking lot on Main Street, which should be completed within several weeks.
Matawan-based Esposito Construction was awarded the contract in the amount of $29,652.95. Funds for the interim lot were included within a $200,000 bond ordinance also approved tonight that also will fund demolition of 65 E. Cherry St. and installation of a fence around The Savoy site at Main and Monroe streets. Mounds of asphalt millings have been staged at the site for the resurfacing, which must be completed in time for next month’s Hot Rods & Harleys event, according to Redevelopment Director and City Administrator Peter Pelissier.
The interim lot is expected to add about 100 spaces to the existing 65, which the Parking Authority will lease from Dornoch Holdings — the developer which originally proposed to build The Westbury — for $1 annually in exchange for property taxes on the site being waived. The idea for an interim lot was proposed in fall 2009 when it became clear the mixed-used development wasn’t coming online anytime soon. [Link in italics added 4/16]
An advisory issued last week by NJ Transit indicated that construction of the center stairs at the train station — which have been closed for a year — is expected to begin in “mid-April.”
Parking and density issues are some of the initial concerns over a 116-unit development proposed along the Rahway River behind the public library. Developer George Capodagli made the presentation to the Redevelopment Agency Wednesday night with his daughter Kim, who manages the firm’s other complex in Rahway.
Pompton Plains-based Capodagli Property Company built Meridia Grand on East Grand Avenue, which broke ground in fall 2009 and started leasing last summer. He credited the Redevelopment Agency for its patience as his firm acquired several properties over the years before the 88-unit project could come to fruition.
The 0.755-acre lot behind the Rahway Public Library and Center Circle athletic complex is owned by the Redevelopment Agency and the initial design appears similar to Meridia Grand, with a sort of triangular-shaped building, with an interior courtyard, abutting the levee along the Rahway River.
The five-story complex, dubbed Meridia Water Edge, would have 116 units (96 one-bedroom/20 two-bedroom) with 91 ground-floor parking spaces. There would be 24 one-bedroom units (650 square feet) and five two-bedroom units (800 square feet) on each of the remaining four floors. Kim Capodagli, who manages Meridia Grand, said rents could run $1,500 for a one-bedroom and $2,000 for a two-bedroom but possibly more since it’s closer to the train station.
“A town grows on heartbeats,” said George Capodagli, who was effusive about redevelopment efforts in the city. “You need people to make a town move,” he said, adding that the proximity to downtown and city facilities like the recreation center and library, make it an ideal location.
To address parking concerns, Capodagli hopes to work out a plan to share spaces in adjacent, underutilized city parking lots, which he described as “virtually empty at night.” More parking likely will be necessary, as Capodagli said he’s not finding as many commuters as expected at his Grand Avenue development.
The project falls within a flood plain and Capodagli said parking would be two feet underwater in a 100-year flood but residents could come out and parking in nearby city lots which are level.
City Engineer James Housten suggested to commissioners that the developer seek a preliminary application conference with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the flood plain because he would have to demonstrate that residents could access the property during a flood. “I’m not saying it’s undoable but he has to address it,” he said.
Redevelopment Agency commissioners were complimentary of the design for the most part, with some minor questions about landscaping. While Capodagli told commissioners he’d like to be “in the ground” in six months, City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said that’s a very ambitious schedule considering the project would still needed approval from the City Council and Planning Board after a redeveloper is designated – which the agency should do next month.
Pelissier said the presentation was merely a preliminary conceptual proposal that was made on short notice to make Wednesday’s meeting but praised Capodagli’s cooperation with city departments and his track record on his previous project. He was confident that further discussion could iron out issues relating to parking and density.
The developer of a recently-completed rental project on East Grand Avenue is apparently trying to acquire several stalled properties in Rahway.
George Capodagli, principal of Capodagli Property Company in Pompton Plains, told commissioners that he’s negotiating with Wells Fargo in an attempt to buy out properties owned by Dornoch Holdings, the developer behind The Savoy and owner of several downtown parcels. Capodagli said he already has a design in mind for The Savoy property, aiming for “a blend of traditional and modern,” and believes a viable restaurant could be developed at one of the other Dornoch-owned properties.
Capodagli was at tonight’s Redevelopment Agency meeting to present commissioners with a preliminary concept plan for a 116-unit rental complex behind Rahway Public Library (details on that project to come). The developer’s 88-unit Meridia Grand project began leasing last summer and is at more than 85 percent capacity, he said.
In an appearance before the Redevelopment Agency in January, Dornoch managing partner Glen Fishman described The Savoy as “dead in the water.” Originally designed as a four-story 36-unit complex, The Savoy site at Monroe and Main streets has been essentially dormant since steel beams were erected in summer 2008. The Hillside-based developer owns several other downtown properties, including the burned out building on East Cherry Street.
A multipurpose bond ordinance to be considered by City Council next week includes $165,000 for equipment and improvements for a police community assistance center currently undergoing renovations on East Cherry Street. The governing body is scheduled to approve several bond ordinances at its meeting on April 11.
The $1-million bond ordinance, which includes the purchase of various equipment and improvements, calls for a down payment of $8,250 and issuing $156,750 in bonds. The city acquired the former Beverage Shop building at 52 E. Cherry St. last spring from the Rahway Center Partnership for $80,000 and plans for the police center were announced last fall.
The $165,000 is for “pretty much everything we need to open the building as a police facility,” said Police Chief John Rodger, including furniture and equipment, such as IT infrastructure, for a 30-capacity conference room. Rodger said the interior has been slightly redesigned and the Juvenile Detective Bureau will be moved into the building full time. The video system for East Cherry Street also will be moved there and cameras will be added for Lot B and the driveway accessing it from East Cherry Street.
Renovations to the center have counted on donations to this point, said Rodger, estimating that less than $15,000 has been spent so far. Pending expenses including flooring, ceiling and Sheetrock work, the chief said, adding that he’s working on getting all material donated for the electrical work as well as volunteers from an electrical union to do the work.
This Wall Street Journal story from last week, All Not Cake on Hoboken’s Washington Street, indicates that even everyone’s favorite cool city is having some difficulty when it comes to retail tenants. About a dozen storefronts along an eight-block stretch of downtown are currently closed, though some new tenants are on the way, according to the WSJ story. Rents vary, with spaces closer to the train station more expensive, as much as $100 per square foot while uptown locations rent for as little as $2 or $3 per foot.