State of the City 2016

A mobile app, a restructuring of City Hall departments, and a campaign to entice a grocery store to make Rahway its home were among the highlights of the 2016 State of the City address.

Mayor Samson Steinman delivered his third State of the City address Friday night at Union County Performing Arts Center. [Editor’s note: I was unable to attend because I was out of town on a business trip but the mayor provided a copy of his remarks, upon which this post is based.]

The mayor announced a campaign to get 10,000 requests filed with Trader Joe’s to bring a market to Rahway. Although locations details have not been disclosed, Steinman said the city has recruited a developer who is willing to offer free rent for a year, or property taxes paid for a year if Trader Joe’s prefers to own the site outright.  The mayor encouraged residents to complete a Location Request on the Trader Joe’s website.

Trader Joe's logo“One of the biggest requests I get from residents is to get a grocery story in Rahway. More specifically, one of the most frequent stores I get requested is Trader Joe’s,” the mayor said. “Let’s convince all the naysayers out there that Trader Joe’s and Rahway are a good fit,” he said.

The roof of a nearby Trader Joe’s in Westfield collapsed during last month’s snowstorm and part of the building had to be razed. That seems to have led to some discussions on social media about finding another site for a TJ’s, though the company plans to reopen in Westfield, according to reports.

There’s been no shortage of talk about bringing a grocery store to downtown Rahway over the years. It’ll be interesting to see what location/developer the city has recruited considering there aren’t too many parcels left downtown that are big enough to accommodate even a Trader Joe’s-sized shop.

The full State of the City can be found here. I encourage you to read it in its entirety but if the ~2,800 words are too much, here are some other highlights and redevelopment-related items:

As for specific development projects:
 
 

Other items of note:

  • The city has collected more than $250,000 in annual revenue through its foreclosure registry. The registry was created after new state legislation was enacted, allowing towns to monitor foreclosed and vacant properties to make sure they are “safe, free from intrusion,” and kept consistent to the city’s standards. The city enacted a foreclosure registry in 2014. A review of the registry last fall estimated more than 300 foreclosed or vacant properties at the time [map] .
  • The mayor will make a recommendation to City Council next month that would reduce the number of departments from nine to eight, including “redefinition of employee roles” and other training, that he estimates will save at least $250,000 in the first year and more in the next few years.

Here’s a look at State of the City addresses in recent years:
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009

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On a lighter note unrelated to redevelopment, congratulations to the mayor on achieving his goal — and then some — in the 2014 Mayor’s Wellness Challenge. He took the pledge to lose 10 percent of his body weight and said in his State of the City that he’s lost 100 pounds, well over 10 percent, “and still working hard.”

5 thoughts on “State of the City 2016”

  1. I emailed Trader Joe’s today to make a request for a store to be built in our town.
    Fingers crossed.
    I love shopping at Trader Joe’s. That would be such an awesome boost for our town!

  2. Congrats Mayor on losing 100 lbs! I saw you a few months ago and noticed, but didn’t want to say anything. Keep it going! Glad to see so much development going on. Id love to see more restaurants, and a coffee/bagel shop. I also emailed trader joes.

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