Chagrined by Chateau’s density, lack of retail

The high density, absence of retail space and narrow sidewalks are among the primary concerns with the Meridia Chateau proposal, according to an analysis by the Redevelopment Agency.

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Poll results: two clear leaders for retail options

Almost 100 votes in our latest poll and two clear leaders finished ahead, with a pretty close third, among the 10 options:

What store would you like to see downtown?
Specialty food store — 23 percent, 21/91
Bakery/bagel shop — 21 percent, 20/91
Coffee shop — 16 percent, 15/91
Liquor store/wine shop — 8 percent, 8/91
Butcher — 8 percent, 8/91
Bar/restaurant — 7 percent, 7/91
Other — 6 percent, 6/91
Books/news/magazines — 4 percent, 4/91
Art/art supply — 2 percent, 2/91
Clothing — 0 percent, 0/91
Furniture — 0 percent, 0/91

So, it looks like you all want a specialty food store, bakery/bagel shop, and coffee shop the most. While most of you seem to want a grocery store, a specialty food store could be an interesting draw. Any suggestions exactly? I would think it’s key to have shops that might not be found elsewhere, and that could mean “specialty” just about anything.

Most of the choices in our latest poll could very well be combined into the same shop; a bakery that has bagels, and a nice coffee house space, and maybe specialty foods? Of course, just recently there was a bakery/pastry shop downtown but it didn’t last; so is it a matter of people saying they want something, but practically speaking, not using or patronizing it? I still think we’re desperate for a good bagel shop downtown, as well as a liquor store/wine shop — and not the kind that were downtown before. A liquor store would make a great complement to BYO restaurants.

What were some of your options for the six “other” votes? It’s clear that readers don’t want a clothing store or furniture store. Kind of surprising to be honest, as was the art/art supply choice. I mean, if it’s an arts town, you’d think and art or art supply shop would work, and in the same vein, perhaps an artsy type of specialty furniture store. Know what I mean? After all, the Rahway Survey (remember that?) recommended a strategy of recruiting retail related to arts and entertainment.

Free free to discuss in the comments below.

Groundbreaking for St. Mary’s senior housing

A groundbreaking ceremony will take place Wednesday morning for a senior housing facility on the Divine Mercy Parish (formerly St. Mary’s) church property. The four-story, 51-unit facility will be built along Esterbrook Avenue, near Central Avenue, where the former St. Mary’s convent once stood. Construction should begin shortly after groundbreaking and is expected to take at least a year.

The convent building was razed about two years ago, and about this time last year, the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the application. It first was proposed to the City Council in late 2007.

The Jack and Margaret Myers Senior Residence is a Section 202 project for very low-income elderly, with financing from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal, among others. Domus Corporation is the development arm of the Archdiocese of Newark, which will provide a 40-year Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the city.

The 44,456-square-foot facility is expected to cost $8.9 million and include green building features, such as energy-efficient, fiberglass windows, Energy Star-rated appliance and lighting, high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, and low-flow water fixtures.

A look inside Hamilton Stage for Performing Arts

The rehearsal hall can seat up to 60.

Work continues on the Hamilton Stage for Performing Arts in anticipation of a grand opening this fall, with an open house preview expected in May as other preview events around the Arts District continue this spring.

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New commissioner for Redevelopment Agency

Michael Staryak was unanimously confirmed by City Council on Monday night as a commissioner to the seven-member Redevelopment Agency, replacing Nancy Saliga, whose term expired. His four-year term runs through 2016.

Saliga was a commissioner since the inception of the agency more than a decade ago. She first was elected as an at-large City Council member in 1990, and her current term expires in 2014. Staryak has served for many years on the Board of Education and his current term concludes this year (.pdf); no word on whether he’ll seek re-election to the school board.

Unlike a few other recent appointments put forth by Mayor Rick Proctor, Staryak’s appointment was confirmed unanimously by the governing body, along with a new Republican commissioner on the Alcohol Beverage Control Board (Eric Rickes, 2014) and a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (Andre Bryant, 2015).

Artist housing explored for gas building site

City officials are scheduled to meet with a developer this week to discuss a project centered around the former Elizabethtown Gas Building at the corner of Hamilton Street and Central Avenue. A presentation to the Redevelopment Agency is expected at its next meeting, April 4.

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Hotel eyes more meeting space, rooftop bar

Hotel Indigo has plans to re-launch its restaurant, explore the possibility of expanding its meeting space, and finally get its long-anticipated rooftop bar off the ground.

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