Agency cool to preliminary plan to replace Mangos

A preliminary plan that would replace Mangos Bar & Grill and adjacent properties with a five-story residential development likely will have to go back to the drawing board to find more parking, among other concerns from the Redevelopment Agency.

The concept plan presented earlier this month suggested four floors of apartments (22 units per floor, about 88) on top of parking, in addition to about 3,800 square feet of retail space.

Redevelopment commissioners were skeptical of the parking situation in particular, with just 45 spaces to accommodate some 88 units. The Central Business District Redevelopment Plan requires a minimum 1.25 spaces per unit so off-site parking would be needed. It was unclear whether parking would be provided for 3,600 square feet of retail space. “You’re losing all that parking, it needs some work,” Redevelopment Agency Chairman William Rack said of the plan.

A lobby and leasing office would occupy the corner, with a stretch of 2,700 square feet of commercial space along Fulton Street and two separate spaces totaling about 1,100 feet on the East Milton Avenue side. There are almost 30 spaces behind the existing building, with about a dozen parking spots behind four retail spaces that total some 2,200 square feet.

Richard Radici, principal of Waldwick-based DMR Construction Services, said he’s been looking in Rahway for the last nine to 10 months. Originally, he was talking to owners of Lots 5 and 23, which abut one another, with Lot 23 at 1305 Fulton St. and Lot 5 at 1308 Pierce St. Radici was then advised that the city is much more interested in enhancing the corner. Radici said they’re in negotiations to acquire the Mangos Bar & Grill site, which has been on the market, and neighboring properties.

The plan as presented includes acquiring the Mangos site (Lot 4.04/1349-53 Fulton St.), a narrow strip of Lot 5 bordering the rear of Mangos that would be subdivided, and the corner building (Lot 1.01/65-73 E. Milton Ave.) at East Milton and Fulton (the first tax map displays the lots best). That property would be expensive, Radici said, because the owner (principals in Silcon Construction, which built Carriage City Plaza) has a high asking price. Radici seemed cool to the idea of going higher than five floors to add more parking as he estimated it would increase costs about 30 percent and they’re already paying a premium.

Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier suggested acquiring more lots further down Fulton to expand the project, possibly adding more units to offset the higher costs of acquiring additional lots and more parking. The owner of Lot 23 (next to Lot 5) is an interested seller, as is a two-family house next door on Lot 22/1297 Fulton St., which could serve as a buffer, he said. While the developer could work to buy or lease available spaces from the Parking Authority, Pelissier said rather than paying those parking fees, it could become more cost-effective to acquire more lots and increase parking.

Pelissier suggested the developer come back and resubmit a plan, first ascertaining site control, which would delineate a better site plan. The preference definitely would be to pursue the piece on East Milton Avenue. “This corner needs to be a first-class project,” he said.

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