Poll: How would you grade redevelopment?

Time for another fun, completely unscientific blog poll. What do you think?

How would you grade Rahway’s redevelopment?

It all depends on what your window of redevelopment might be. If you go back to the 1980s — from what I’ve heard — you wouldn’t even want to walk around downtown during the day. Your perspective might be completely different if you arrived here in the late ’90s as redevelopment got rolling, when the housing market heated up in the mid-2000s, or when it crashed just a few years ago. Whatever your perspective, I’m sure there are things you like and don’t like over the years, so feel free to share.

A quick rundown of some of the residential construction over the years:
* River Place, 136 units
* Park Square, 159 units
* Sky View at Carriage City Plaza, 222 units (plus 102 hotel rooms)

* Meridia Grand, 88 units
* Riverwalk townhouses, 86 units

There’s also two age-restricted projects that were built, Rosegate on East Hazelwood Avenue and Park Terrace on St. Georges Avenue and School Street (though I’m unsure of how many units on each of those). Even not including those two projects, that’s at least 691 units within the general downtown area, starting as early as about 2002 with Riverwalk. Unfortunately, about 20 percent of the Riverwalk units went into foreclosure, as did at least some of Sky View units. Meanwhile, The Savoy (36 units) and The Westbury (152 units) never got off the ground, although there is a plan to resurrect The Savoy plans as Meridia Chateau (<120 units).

There also was the renovation of the train station (1999), which included demolition to create the train station plaza, as well as erection of the 524-space parking deck on Lewis Street (2004), and the new library and recreation center near City Hall. There also was construction of Luciano’s Ristorante and that includes 14 rental apartments on the upper floors, which would push the number of new residential units over 700, and another 50 units at Brookside on St. Georges Avenue that should come online this year.

On the arts side of things, there was the $6-million renovation of the arts center by Union County, and construction is nearly complete on the Hamilton Stage for Performing Arts, though the Hamilton amphitheater has been put on hold. The Arts District also has taken over the $130,000 or so in revenue generated by the Special Improvement District.

Those are just a few of the things off the top of my head, I could go on and on but I’m sure you have some things you’d add, so feel free. I know quite a few of you are frustrated about the lack of retail options and turnover among certain retail properties, particularly along East Cherry Street. Before you go on a rant though, one question: What would you do differently?

4 thoughts on “Poll: How would you grade redevelopment?”

  1. First of all, I'd give the redevelopment an A. While personally I was basically pushed out of the downtown because of all the construction and lack of people during the down time, the general accomplishments have been great. It's not the redevelopment that tanked, it's the economy. Blaming the people who have visions – or blaming anyone at all – is just a waste of energy.The money from the SID tax (is that what it's still called?) should go towards buying up property and giving grants to people to fix up the downtown. I wouldn't spend so much time on special events , all the overtime for security etc when there is no other reason for people to come downtown other than to eat or see a show…NO DISRESPECT to the businesses that are open currently, but you can't exactly call the downtown a town to stroll and shop. You go there for a destination, not to spend the day shopping then go eat or go to a show or hopefully soon a non major motion picture. If we're going to be an arts city, then lets be one. Put facade walls around the train station and have murals done. The train station is fabulous, from ONE side, it's like wearing a Gucci suit with Payless shoes. East Cherry street is a clusterfu*k of foreclosure. I want to open a restaurant, but there's no building available to rent that's big enough. How ridiculous is that? When my old cafe and my old coffeehouse are VACANT!Those are the things off the top of my head. The more people the better…eventually it'll happen. I hope I live to see it. There's a lot I'd love to do down there, and it's not the City that is uncooperative, it's landlords and banks. I don't pay attention to nah sayers, never have, never will…all they really do is give me more energy to do something instead of sit around and complain, I'd love to read some of the posts that are removed from this blog.

  2. Actually, the train station isn't so fabulous. There is unattended landscaping, elevators that constantly break down (due to vandalism and poor repairs – there have been times both sides were out of order leaving people with disabilities no way to use the station), people put garbage in the ceiling of the elevators (I know! Amazing!), homeless people are sleeping in the waiting rooms and panhandling in the area (where is the police presence when you need it?), areas smell of urine (you should try getting into the elevator some mornings), there are times that the waiting room is locked for no reason (try that in the middle of winter), the station in general is in ill repair and when repairs are made they take months and months to be completed. It was ill designed from the get go.From someone who utilizes the station every weekday (and works in design for over 30 years), there's nothing Gucci about it at all. It's an embarrassment to the town, and problematic to commuters who are paying a high price for a station which hasn't lived up to expectations.

  3. Joe, The only posts I remove are ones that either are spam or nonsensical, as one commenter has been of late. You're not missing anything. I encourage feedback of all kinds, as long as it's respectful, productive and/or coherent.

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