Parking and density issues are some of the initial concerns over a 116-unit development proposed along the Rahway River behind the public library. Developer George Capodagli made the presentation to the Redevelopment Agency Wednesday night with his daughter Kim, who manages the firm’s other complex in Rahway.
Pompton Plains-based Capodagli Property Company built Meridia Grand on East Grand Avenue, which broke ground in fall 2009 and started leasing last summer. He credited the Redevelopment Agency for its patience as his firm acquired several properties over the years before the 88-unit project could come to fruition.
The 0.755-acre lot behind the Rahway Public Library and Center Circle athletic complex is owned by the Redevelopment Agency and the initial design appears similar to Meridia Grand, with a sort of triangular-shaped building, with an interior courtyard, abutting the levee along the Rahway River.
The five-story complex, dubbed Meridia Water Edge, would have 116 units (96 one-bedroom/20 two-bedroom) with 91 ground-floor parking spaces. There would be 24 one-bedroom units (650 square feet) and five two-bedroom units (800 square feet) on each of the remaining four floors. Kim Capodagli, who manages Meridia Grand, said rents could run $1,500 for a one-bedroom and $2,000 for a two-bedroom but possibly more since it’s closer to the train station.
“A town grows on heartbeats,” said George Capodagli, who was effusive about redevelopment efforts in the city. “You need people to make a town move,” he said, adding that the proximity to downtown and city facilities like the recreation center and library, make it an ideal location.
To address parking concerns, Capodagli hopes to work out a plan to share spaces in adjacent, underutilized city parking lots, which he described as “virtually empty at night.” More parking likely will be necessary, as Capodagli said he’s not finding as many commuters as expected at his Grand Avenue development.
The project falls within a flood plain and Capodagli said parking would be two feet underwater in a 100-year flood but residents could come out and parking in nearby city lots which are level.
City Engineer James Housten suggested to commissioners that the developer seek a preliminary application conference with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the flood plain because he would have to demonstrate that residents could access the property during a flood. “I’m not saying it’s undoable but he has to address it,” he said.
Redevelopment Agency commissioners were complimentary of the design for the most part, with some minor questions about landscaping. While Capodagli told commissioners he’d like to be “in the ground” in six months, City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said that’s a very ambitious schedule considering the project would still needed approval from the City Council and Planning Board after a redeveloper is designated – which the agency should do next month.
Pelissier said the presentation was merely a preliminary conceptual proposal that was made on short notice to make Wednesday’s meeting but praised Capodagli’s cooperation with city departments and his track record on his previous project. He was confident that further discussion could iron out issues relating to parking and density.