Best Independent Blog? Yes, please

The New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awarded Rahway Rising the winner of the Independent (non-media affiliated) Blog category in the 2011 Excellence in Journalism Awards.

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Former Westbury site back on track?

The owner of several Main Street parcels that had been envisioned years ago as a retail/residential development with a parking deck is interested in adding a neighboring parcel as it restarts efforts on the site.

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Marketing agency to tout redevelopment

The Redevelopment Agency awarded a professional services contract of $135,500 to The DavidHenry Agency for advertising and marketing consulting services that will include brochures, video, a website and app touting the city’s redevelopment efforts over the past decade and a half.

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Agency amends lease, authorizes payment

The Redevelopment Agency amended an agreement to lease the Hamilton Stage for Performing Arts to the Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC) from 10 years to 30 years while authorizing the final $100,000 payment to the Rahway Arts District.

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Agency designates redeveloper for artist housing

The Redevelopment Agency at its meeting earlier this month conditionally designated the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) as redeveloper of the former Elizabethtown Gas building on Central Avenue (Block 167, Lot 1), where it has proposed 60 units of affordable housing for artists.

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Ordinance would allow temporary, ‘pop-up’ uses

The City Council is scheduled to adopt an ordinance Monday night that would allow property owners to use vacant storefronts as “pop-up” galleries or cafes until a tenant can fill the space.

City Council President Samson Steinman said the amendment will strengthen the city’s current outdoor dining ordinance while also allowing the temporary use of vacant storefronts for such things as “pop-up” galleries or cafes.

As an example, he cited an Irving Street property currently under renovation (across from the Klavierhaus Piano Conservatory) that is likely to participate. The ordinance would amend existing regulations to include permanent or temporary food establishments and outlines the application process, which includes a $45 fee.

Pop-galleries are being employed in Chicago’s Loop area and this 2009 story from The New York Times details various neighborhoods in New York City where the initiative has been employed. Some places have even used parking spaces to create “pop-up cafes” — decked out with seating, tables and plants — including Lower Manhattan, Westport, Conn., and Austin, Texas.

Alternate parking plan for Water’s Edge

Almost two dozen more spaces will be constructed under an alternate parking plan to accommodate the 108-unit Meridia Water’s Edge project. The developer, Capodagli Property Company, will pay $25,000 for 3,700 square feet (in red on this accompanying map) to build spaces for the rental project, in addition to constructing 22 spaces (in green on the map) for use by the Rahway River Condominium Association.

The 22 spaces will be created along the levee in the outdoor parking lot adjacent to the library building, which is owned by the condo association. The Redevelopment Agency, which is a 50-percent owner of the association along with Rahway Office Center, approved the sale of the property at its meeting last week. The City Council is scheduled to introduce an ordinance next week that would grant an easement to allow construction on city property.

The $25,000 sale price was based on the sale of land for the five-story Water’s Edge project. The Water’s Edge plan that gained approval proposed the use of 21 existing parking spots out of the roughly 160 spaces, which the newly created spaces will replace, along with 87 spaces on the ground floor below apartments.

The condo association needs the parking for future tenants of the commercial space above the library and could not provide for parking related to Water’s Edge unless additional parking would be provided and paid for by the developer, according to Redevelopment Director and City Administrator Peter Pelissier. “The intent is to have a zero loss of spaces for the condo association while providing the spaces needed by Meridia, at no cost to the condo association.”