City moves to buy Beverage Shop building

The City Council last week introduced an ordinance to purchase the vacant Beverage Shop building from the Rahway Center Partnership (RCP) after Dornoch defaulted on its agreement to acquire it. A public hearing and final approval is scheduled at the council’s regular meeting on March 8.

The Partnership bought the one-story structure at 52 E. Cherry St., (Block 318, Lot 18) in April 2001 for $130,000, and had an agreement in July 2006 to sell it to Dornoch. The property was to be part of the developer’s downtown plans and RCP, as I understand it, acquired it at the time as a way to control problem properties/tenants, with the intention of it becoming part of the larger plan. In late 2007, Dornoch presented plans to the Planning Board to knock down several East Cherry Street properties — including The Beverage Shop — and build a new four-story structure as part of what’s sometimes referred to as Dornoch II 1/2.

Dornoch, which also planned two other projects that have since stalled — The Savoy and The Westbury — has defaulted on its agreement and payments of almost $8,000 to RCP. Annual property taxes on the building are more than $6,700, according to property records, which haven’t been paid for the last two quarters, according to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier.

The City Council also approved a contract with Prime Appraisal to appraise the property and the ordinance opens the door for negotiations. The building has been vacant for a few years and its condition is unclear, Pelissier said. The city plans to assume the agreement with Dornoch, put a lien on the property and likely list it for sale.

In addition to Dornoch defaulting on its agreement, the Partnership lost funding from Merck and NJ Transit and faces some major structural changes in its future which will be detailed in the next post.

13 thoughts on “City moves to buy Beverage Shop building”

  1. The city should be offering near-free rent on these places to entice businesses in. You can negotiate kickout clauses that protect the city against a turnaround in the commercial RE market.No one wants to patronize the Grill on Cherry St. or Mr. Apple Pie on Irving because the places look so rundown. A decent but inexpensive breakfast/lunch/brunch/bagel place could draw people out of their apartments and downtown residences and save them the trip to Denny's.Mr. Gs may have offered too varied a menu in too much (expensive) space too soon. The inconvenient coffee setup cost them the commuter business. I have to believe that the folks willing to hang out at the Waiting Room are also willing to eat breakfast downtown from time to time if given the right draw.My money is on another art space or some other venue that draws about 80 people to downtown twice a year and is dead the rest of the year.

  2. Heck, I'd like to eat at Mr. Apple Pie's, but the darn place is closed every time I stop by (on weekends). Mark — keeping us in suspense with the news on the RCP, eh? I wonder why Merck pulled its funding …

  3. The RCP should lose all its funding, it's become a machine that only feeds itself; total waste and redundant objectives that the City should provide from all it's citizens not just Downtown property owners. Go Away.

  4. Losing funding?? What a great time to invest $90,000 in a piano.Realist, Mr.g's was a great place and would have been a success. The guy died.Good job selling the town to a defunct hedge fund group. Such an example of what went wrong with the mortgage industry…nobody did their legwork to protect the town. Homeowners suffer though, where these politicians can walk away. What a shame. Dead as a Dornoch…eh, eh…..I think I'll trademark that.

  5. Not so much suspense as just needing time to organize my notes, and present the posts in manageable, easy-to-digest lengths. My understanding is NJ Transit and Merck cut back on contributions in general and RCP was among the casualties.Anon, RCP is losing funding but they're not buying the piano.Matt, Mr. Apple Pie is open weekend mornings, no? Breakfast and lunch?BTW, I thought In The Mix (corner Irving/West Main) was going to be primarily a dessert cafe. I didn't realize they would have lunch and dinner, but also surprised by a Sunday brunch. I only stopped in for coffee a few weeks ago, haven't tried it yet.

  6. realist, I thought that you yuppies love places like the Rahway Grill for their nostaligic charm, as walking into the place is like walking into a time machine. I'd rather have the Rahway Grill on Cherry St. than a Starbucks, although both don't help me find a decent cup of coffee downtown!

  7. Anon at 9:15pm 2/17, Mr. Gs was not seeing a lot of business while the owner was alive. His death is incredibly unfortunate and I extend my sympathies to his family and loved ones.I think his passing just sped up the closing process. If the business were thriving, they could have sold it to another entity to continue the operations.I patronized Mr. Gs and never saw many other customers in there. Typically there were no other customers. It wasn't an ambiance issue. The place looked nice. But you can't expect to draw people in with plastic wrapped pre-made pastries in the morning and a 5-minute wait for a cup of coffee when I need to catch a train. The lunch offerings were decent and varied enough. So where were the patrons?I am not interested in picking on Mr. G. I am curious why after all these years, the city still thinks "arts" are the cure-all to the downtown woes. I can't believe that Cherry Street looks worse now in 2010 than it did in 2007.I still think they need to solicit some motion picture production to use the street for filming and let them put up a decent facade that will improve the street, even if its still abandoned buildings behind pretty facades. Just a crazy idea. Cherry St. just makes me sad.

  8. Sadly, I have to agree that things were not looking good for Mr. G's even before the owner's untimely passing. I think Realist is right, it just wasn't what was most needed in that location, although the main problem was (is) the lack of foot traffic downtown. Now I hear the dry cleaners next door is closing up shop too.Mark — I guess Mr. Apple Pie is open Saturday mornings, but I seem to recall trying to stop by for lunch several times only to find the place closed; it may only be open for breakfast and only on Saturday. I don't know, maybe I'm just a late eater, but if a place closes before 4pm it's not open for lunch in my book. I hear it's good, I just hope I manage to get there when it's open one of these days. However, what I'm really hoping for is that the owner finds it worthwhile to extend business hours, maybe once more people move downtown into Park Square.Speaking of Park Square, I'd be curious to know whether the stated rents from your earlier post are accurate, or just propaganda put out there by the owners. Those rent figures seem awfully steep. Any tenants from Park Square care to comment?"Dead as a Dornoch" – I think that belongs on a t-shirt.Haven't been to In the Mix but next time I'm in the area I'm looking forward to trying it. Good to know they are open for lunch/dinner!

  9. Matthew,I went to Park Square when they first started leasing and they were quoting me prices that were very close (within $50) of the posted asking rents. I thought they were nuts. Its one thing to be the only new building in town but River Place still shows as extremely new and has much better rates and Skyview is practically giving their rentals away. I really don't know how the people who rented at Park Square justified moving in at those asking prices. Would like to believe that a few months after I first looked, when they still hadn't rented many units, they started dropping asking rents or negotiated with people.

  10. I didn't even know these places existed because there isn't much advertising. Basically I JUST now found out about Mr. Apple Pie. It doesn't have a site? Hello! Get with the program! Hire me I am jobless lol! (ok that wasn't funny but..)

  11. You could probably get start a decent side gig if you convinced some of the merchants to get a Web site.Just a guess that maybe some think they're "not big enough" to have one, but a surprising number don't have their own sites, with their only Web presence being sites like Merchant Circle.

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