With demolition of the old Wheatena buildings and clearing of the site in recent months, I thought it’d be a good time to go deep into the archives.
The white, four-story building at the corner of Elizabeth and West Grand avenues loomed vacant for about 40 years despite a variety of plans over the last decade and a half. The plan that finally received approval and now is moving forward is a 487-unit development called The Brownstones, by Capodagli Property Company. Over the past year or so, the company has cleared much of the 7-acre site and environmental remediation is part of the project.
Here’s a timeline of milestones over the last few decades (I’ve linked to what I can, which is mostly previous posts):
- 1907: Wheatena factory opens in Rahway.
- 1965: Wheatena factory closed and sold, at some point becoming a warehouse for a book publisher.
- 1975: The building becomes vacant “as plans to renovate the reinforced concrete structure” don’t materialize.
- 1985: David & Sylvia Weisz Foundation acquires the largest parcel for about $2 million.
- 2004: Redevelopment Agency selects one of five plans, which proposed 264 condominiums and 36 townhouses.
- Early 2007: Plans are revised to scale down from 300 residential units to a 130-unit complex with 72 “stacked” and 58 “traditional” townhouses called Carriage Park.
- December 2011: Plans for Carriage Park dropped.
- August 2012: Concept plan presented for The Brownstones.
- June 2013: Redevelopment agreement approved with Capodagli Property Company.
- December 2014: Planning Board approves 487-unit Brownstones.
- May 2015: Capdagli acquires the property for approximately $4.7 million.
- October 2015: Demolition begins.
- December 2015: Demolition of most of the main building is completed.
A Google search yielded a flickr account that features some pretty cool photos from the Wheatena site taken in 2013 that are worth checking out. There’s also a fun piece from Atlas Obscura from earlier this year that includes some remarks from city historian Alex Shipley.