On tap for 2008: Park Square, Sky View

Nothing Earth-shattering in the mayor’s State of the City address last night. The new year should bring with it the completion of Park Square and Sky View at Carriage City Plaza, which includes a Hotel Indigo. Mayor James Kennedy pledged that downtown redevelopment efforts would continue to see progress this year, despite a downturn in the national economy as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.
The largest portion of the mayor’s nine-minute remarks focused on a new billing method for sewage. He expects the city’s assessment from the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA) to increase from $3.6 million in Fiscal Year 2007 to $6.1 million in FY 2010, or almost 70 percent in the next three years.
Speaking of the subprime mortgage mess, what effect has it had on Rahway’s plans? I happened to pose that question to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier just last month, after reading about Asbury Park’s problems, and one Hoboken developer switching condo projects to rentals because of the housing market.
Pelissier said the city hasn’t been adversely affected by the real estate market — in terms of redevelopment — and rattled off an update on a number of projects:
* Park Square (rentals) has made plans to take out permits for the second building, which will face Main Street.
* Dornoch I (Main and Monroe streets) has taken out permits for The Savoy (36 units for purchase with 7,000 square feet of retail).
* Station Place (Five stories, with 80 units and 132 parking spaces, on Campbell Street between Elm and Cherry, for purchase) is still in the process of acquiring properties and relocating the main tenant, A&M Tool Co.
* Wheatena (Elizabeth and West Grand avenues) has requested assistance on the acquisition of properties for its 200-unit project (for purchase).
* Renaissance at Rahway, 72 units with underground parking, also requested assistance of the Redevelopment Agency to acquire the remaining three properties necessary to control the site (Triangle Inn area on Monroe Street). Five of the eight properties necessary are under contract.
* The Town Center project in the City Hall area is still being discussed, and the potential developer is negotiating with retailers as well as the property owners on the site. “As you can imagine this project is complex and will take some time to coordinate all the components of a project this size,” Pelissier said.
If a developer wanted to convert a condo project to rentals, as in some towns, the developer would have to come before the Redevelopment Agency again for approval, he said.
“Each week developers contact the mayor or myself inquiring as to the possibilities of developing in Rahway,” Pelissier said. “Also take a look around the downtown area, properties are being improved in the Arts District as well as throughout the downtown. This points out the small investor continues to believe in the future of Rahway as well as the larger developers.”
The mayor also mentioned that City Council has authorized demolition of the Hamilton Laundry site. I’ll have an update and potential timeline on that later this week.

19 thoughts on “On tap for 2008: Park Square, Sky View”

  1. All these condo projects going full steam ahead makes me wonder. How many of those Skyview condos are actually under contract and how many will actually close when the building opens for business?For the life of me, I don’t see how someone with 600k to drop on a condo is going to put up with “attached” parking in the parking garage next door. NEXT DOOR! You have to schlep your groceries and purchases from a garage next door? I don’t care if Rahway is the next Hoboken, even Hobokenites like to have cars but you can survive in Hoboken without one. I don’t think someone living in Skyview plans to take the NJT bus to the Menlo Park Mall.Which leads to another question, aren’t they going to run out of parking if all the Skyview folks have parking spaces? Where are all the daily commuters who park for the train going to park once residential parking gobbles up the remaining spots? Does this mean that Colonia and Clark (pseudo-commuter towns) become less desirable because there is no longer ample parking in Rahway?Finally, if NJT and/or Amtrak can’t find a way to quiet down with the train whistle blowing in the late night/early morning hours, there is no way Rahway downtown will ever gain a reputation as being a nice place to live. I don’t know if its overzealous engineers or required by law due to the danger of late night track work but a few nights ago, there was a train that was blowing its whistle for over ten minutes as it made its way from Iselin, past Rahway and on its way to Linden. I don’t care how sound proof your windows are! I can see the Tripadvisor reviews on the Hotel Indigo now. “Don’t bother staying here unless you enjoy being woken up every 20 minutes by train whistles literally outside your window”. As for Skyview, even if you have the preferred view of Manhattan (and the Rahway Sewage Authority smokestack or whatever that thing is towards Route 1) you will hear those whistles loud and clear. Its no way to live.I would love to hear what is really going on with the apartments available for sale. Rental market is tight due to the current downturn in RE, I get that. But are people really plunking down cash on those condos?

  2. Come, on. Did you not see the train tracks when you moved to Rahway? Is a little toot-toot such a hardship? That’s the price of having an easy commute. For years I lived with my bedroom window facing the tracks about 100 feet away. Sure, I was woken up once in a while, but I much prefer it to a siren or a firetruck horn. Certainly it’s different having a hotel across the street (that would merit complaint), but as residents, you and I knew what we were getting into. Enjoy it! 🙂

  3. When I moved here 20 years ago, I too lived right near the train station. Yes, you do hear the trains, but like everything else you get used to it. After a while you do not even notice the noise.

  4. I’m going to side with realist (for more reason than one). I think there’s a not so fine line between a train alert, and a psychopath that feels the entire town needs to know there’s a train coming through on an elevated track; not a wave of stealth bombers about to take out the village.For the record, being a block away from the firehouse, I get the best of all worlds. The fire engines/sirens, the train “toot-toots”, the ricers, the loud drunks, etc. At least I know I’m on a fixed timeline renting where I am vs. the people who are buying into some of these condos.- “They bought the tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say…”

  5. I went to the Skyview sales office a few months ago to inquire about 1-BR apartments. The newspaper and craigslist ads listed prices of $230k however the very attractive sales consultant told me that 2 1-BR units are left, listed for $274 and $294. Also taxes were around $5k and maintenance is on the order of $400 a month. Resisting the charms of her low-cut blouse, I didn’t sign my life away. It’ll be interesting to see their cancellation rate as well as how many units were bought on spec. For the prices they’re asking the kind of buyer they want will most likely look towards Hoboken or Jersey City for a condo or towards Monmouth or Mercer counties for a McMansion.The Skyview people told me they had a handful of units left but this was back in Spetember. They have sent me emails when units “come back on the market”, a phrase which can be interpreted many ways.I hope the hotel takes off and while I don’t see people planning vacations and weekend getaways in Rahway, it would provide a welcome alternative to the Courtyard by Marriotts and the Ramada Inns frequented by business travellers.

  6. I live above Michellino’s pizza, which is nestled right in between the train station, police station and fire station. The train never wakes me up, and though the sirens can sometimes be annoying, that’s that’s part of living in a downtown (just like the loud kids shouting on the street below). If anything, the most annoying noise I encounter is the sound of the pizza delivery boy’s car, which is “suped up” to make that annoying tailpipe noise every time he heads out for a delivery.

  7. Dear Doofus,Thank you for saving me time in coming up with an appropriate name to call you as I reply to your comment.Of course I saw the train tracks when I moved to Rahway and of course I expected there to be the occasional “toot-toot” as trains pulled into the station.What I did not sign up for are the incessant ‘lean-on-the-horn’ style whistles that the train engineers use to announce their departure from Metropark, pending arrival into Rahway, and subsequent departure towards Linden. Again, I suspect that this type of siren blowing would be prohibited in general and required only if track work is being performed. That being said, when it does happen (admittedly infrequently)it is like nails on a chalkboard.Telling me that its the price of an easy commute is like telling someone who just bought a new home in the suburbs (far from any trains) that the guy who leans on the car horn at 4:30am each day while picking up the neighbors kids for skating practice is just something you “sign up for” when buying a home. There is a big difference between a toot-toot at that hour and a hoooooooooooooooonk.

  8. Vinny Gambini: Does that freight train come through here at 5:00 A.M. every morning?Hotel Clerk: No, sir, it’s very unusual.Vinny Gambini: [the next day, after Vinny was awakened by the train] Yesterday you told me that freight train hardly ever comes through here at 5:00 A.M. in the morning.Hotel Clerk: I know. She’s supposed to come through at ten after 4:00.

  9. I found a craigslist ad which leads me to believe that Skyview is renting out some units: http://cnj.craigslist.org/apa/527594760.html At $2200 a month, I’ll own something someplace else thank you very much, preferably without train whistles. Are builders of new condo complexes allowed to rent out units which haven’t sold? I don’t know if the ad was posted by Skyview or a condo buyer who reposted the builder’s info in an attempt to line up a tenant.

  10. As for the Skyview rental, as far as I know the building hasn’t been renting out units. I bought a bedroom apartment and haven’t heard there were doing that. I’m sure it’s a condo owner that’s posting that. There is a rule in the agreement that prevents you from renting it out within a certain timeframe from buying it but I’m sure that would be difficult to enforce. By the way, most of the building has been sold out. As for the poster Realist, you should be realistic in your comments. The apartments sold between 200k-400k, not 600k. Also as far as the parking garage, the spaces to be used by the owners are already blocked off for use by the building workers so the future impact will be minimal.

  11. Scott wrote:As for the poster Realist, you should be realistic in your comments. The apartments sold between 200k-400k, not 600k.From the Bergen Record in an article dated 9/26/07: “…Silva said half of the residential units at Skyview are contracted for sale. The units range in price from around $350,000 for the standard units to $800,000 and more for the penthouse spaces.”Silcon’s founder Silva says some units are going for $800k+. He might be lying but that’s what the Record reported so I have every reason to believe the condos sold for more than 600k, nevermind 400k.And as far as the parking space issue goes, I think you are missing my points.Point #1: The garage is next door as in, not underneath the building. If it doesn’t bother you, thats fantastic. I would just like to meet the person(s) who buy the penthouse condos with the Manhattan views who can’t park their car in their own building. If you ask me, its a tough sell.Point #2: I am sure that there will be plenty of parking for the Skyview folks. Its the commuters I am concerned about. Scuttlebutt on the train platform at Rahway each morning is that there is now a waiting list to get a parking permit for the Rahway garage. Why move to Rahway or neighboring towns if you have to be on a waiting list for parking? People aren’t moving to Westfield because there is a 5+ year waiting list for parking at the train station. I would rather wait it out to live in a town like Westfield than a town like Rahway.But these are just my sensibilities and not everyone has to or should share them.

  12. I purchased a condo at Skyview at the end of November. At that time, there were no 1 bedrooms left. I just looked at the price sheet, and all of the two bedrooms at that time were priced less than 400K. Although the penthouses may go for substantially more, the great majority of units are priced below 400K. I suspect all of the one bedrooms were priced below 300K – although I can not confirm this since all were sold at that time. In late November there were less than 10 units left. I understand that the penthouses will not be offered until the building is completed.Parking will be in the adjacent garage with an attached, secured entry way into the building. I agree that more commuter parking should be readily available. It will bring more people with more dollars to the businesses of downtown rahway. However, the lack of parking shouldnt adversely affect homeowners. You would suspect that if someone can’t move to a nearby community secondary to lack of parking at the Rahway facility, they will then consider moving directly to one of the new condo’s downtown so they will be in walking distance to the train station.Perhaps the planning board already has this in mind. They may be limiting commuter parking in an attempt to encourage commuters to move to Rahway and sustain the massive redevelopment efforts. In any case, I’ve lived in NYC and Im sure the noise of the commuter train won’t compete with the noises of the city (especially 4AM garbage trucks). And yes Realist – people are investing in Rahway. Show me another project in NJ where the units are 90% sold-out 6 months prior to competion of the project. Despite the falling housing market, this project is doing well. I would suspect the 5-year ROI will be substantial.

  13. Clearly there is a lot of investment going on in Rahway. I honestly hope it all proves to be very fruitful for everyone involved. I am rooting for Rahway to succeed.I hope that everyone who is under contract to purchase at Skyview executes on their contract. I hope everyone who buys in now is able to sell their units for twice the price they paid five years from now.That being said, I wouldn’t be betting that the 5-year ROI is going to be “substantial” given today’s housing market. Rahway is still Rahway, there is no foreign investment money pouring in like you have in Manhattan to inflate values. You can’t walk anywhere in downtown Rahway after 11 at night to get a quart of milk. My walk in the morning down Cherry Street to the train is still depressing for lack of a better word. I fully expect things to start to change once all the new Skyview, Savoy, etc. residents move in and are there to drum up business for the local stores and restaurants.Still, I think (hope) in 5 years you will be able to get your money back on whatever you spent to move in to your condo. But I believe your ROI will not be substantial and will be closer to the current rate on a 5 year CD meaning, with inflation, you shouldn’t lose money. Substantial ROI? I just don’t see it happening.I hope I have to eat my words. Anyone who bought in at Skyview hoping to make a killing in real estate should talk to the River Walk condo owners who are trying to rent out their enormous townhomes at psf prices less than a 2-bedroom apartment at RiverPlace on Lewis Street. See this link.Or talk to the owners who bought in 2006 for 450k and are now short selling at asking prices less than 380k. All this info is verifiable on the MLS.

  14. Has anyone had issues with getting your money back from Silcon/Silva/Skyview? I didn’t qualify for a mortgage and now the builder won’t refund my deposit. Let me know if anyone is going through same issue?Tony

  15. RE: Has anyone had issues with getting your money back from Silcon/Silva/Skyview…….Well yea actually I’m in the same situation. I was disqualified for this mortgage in early Decemeber and still haven’t been refunded my money. I’ve followed the contract and all instructions from the builders, their lawyer, and mortgage rep, and it’s gotten me nowhere. Everyone in this situation should unite and fight this together.

  16. Thanks realist for informative post. My wife and I (we’re both in our early 30s with no kids; currently rent in Millburn NJ) are looking at Rahway as our potential future home because of the nice commute into NYC. We’re mainly concerned about safety. Your comment about not being able to walk around downtown after 11pm sound scary. Just searching for “rahway” on google news and finding a few crime reports including Commerce bank robbery all in the last month doesnt help. We are just looking for some advice from people on this really nice blog on whether Rahway is a safe place to be.

  17. I have personally lived in rahway for over 8 years. Coming from New York, Rahway is nothing. I have never seen crime take its place nor do i imagine rahway to be going through some major crime. Having the police station only a block a way from the station to cops driving through the area, you get to see how safe the town really is. banks get robbed every now and then. it is unfortunate that rahway was the target in that case. but to conclude, the rumors once made about this city our obtuse. I plan on living here for a couple more years for i have never encountered a problem with rahway. it will slowly but surely be looking like the city westfield

  18. MrandMrsLeery….I believe when Realist said they cannot walk down the street past 11pm… they were referring to that nothing is open at that hour. They mentioned buying milk. I currently live in Rahway alone and I always feel very safe at night when I walk my dog at all hours… My BF lives in NYC, and the noise level is no comparison. My commute to work is super easy and I absolutely love my new condo at Skyview… I hope this helps…

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