A developer who last year purchased two East Cherry Street properties plans to acquire two more neighboring properties and raze them all, replacing them with a five-story mixed-used building.
Three ground-floor retail spaces would have a total of almost 2,800 square feet. Five ground-floor apartments would be in the rear, topped by 28 units on the upper floors. The breakdown of rental apartments are proposed as 22 one-bedroom units, 8 two-bedrooms and 3 studios, for a total of 33 units.
Richard Radici of Waldwick-based DMR Construction presented a concept plan to the Redevelopment Agency at its meeting earlier this month. Among the four properties that DMR Construction acquired last year, two are at 38 E. Cherry St. and 44 E. Cherry St.
The developer is in talks to acquire the building next door housing Rahway’s Finest Barber Shop (46 E. Cherry St.) and the plan is to eventually acquire part or all of the police center where The Beverage Shop used to be (52 E. Cherry St.). The existing four buildings are one to two stories in height.
The project would extend the property line in the back and be a relatively square, symmetrical building, Radici said. If the Planning Board gives its approval in May, the project could break ground by the summer.
“Our thinking right now is it has to have a historic feel to it, to be consistent with East Cherry Street,” Radici said. By the time it gets to the Planning Board, it will have a more historic character to it, he added.
It’s similar to what was proposed in the past. Original plans by Dornoch , the previous owner that defaulted on the property, were to raze the buildings and build a new four-story structure as outlined during a 2007 Planning Board meeting.
It’s important to retain the character of East Cherry Street, a destination street for dining, Redevelopment Director Leonard Bier said.
A resolution to authorize DMR Construction as conditional redeveloper was approved 6-0.
Redevelopment Commissioner Sondra Fishinger asked if this is the way redevelopment can work, a little bit at a time.
With a variety of owners and different properties, Bier said it’s more difficult in today’s climate after the Kelo Supreme Court decision (regarding eminent domain and taking of property for redevelopment purposes). “Rahway doesn’t have these big properties,” he said but it’s fortunate that the city has been able to put together several properties.
DMR is still keeping the corner property (at Irving Street) and renovating it but it’s important to keep in mind the design of the whole block of East Street Street, Bier said, while doing something as circumstances come up.
DMR earlier this year also proposed an 86-unit project called Poplar Court at the site of the Northfield Savings Bank along Irving Street.