Tag Archives: amphitheater

Agency awards appraisal contract for homes

The Redevelopment Agency last month awarded a contract to Woodbridge-based Prime Appraisal, Inc. to perform appraisals on three Hamilton Street properties eyed for future parking related to Arts District projects.

The contract is for $6,000, or no more than $2,000 to appraise each property, all of which are two-family homes:
* 318-320 Hamilton St. (Block 167, Lot 43), which paid about $7,500 in property taxes last year, and last sold in November 1998 for $135,000, according to PropertyShark.com.
* 332-336 Hamilton St. (Block 167, Lot 41), which last year paid about $7,000 in property taxes, but the most recent sale price was not available.
* 342-344 Hamilton St. (Block 167, Lot 40), which paid about $6,300 in property taxes and last changed hands in November 1995 for $124,000.

The Redevelopment Agency last month agreed to pursue a 220-seat black box theater for the former Bell Telephone Building, awarding a $5.825-million bid to Gingerelli Bros, Inc. of Toms River. The agency put off construction of a 1,300-seat amphitheater and instead will move forward with a parking lot on the former Hamilton Laundry site in the meantime.

One home adjacent to the proposed amphitheater site already has been razed, after the agency acquired it for $340,000 in 2008, and another is set to be knocked down after the City Council approved $400,000 for acquisition ($240,000) and demolition and related asbestos and tank removal.

Black box theater first, then amphitheater – maybe

Following the recommendation of the administration, the Redevelopment Agency is moving forward on a black box theater while prioritizing parking over an amphitheater in the short term.

The Redevelopment Agency on Wednesday awarded a $5.825-million construction bid to Gingerelli Bros, Inc. The Toms River-based firm was the lowest among 16 bidders to renovate the former Bell Building on Hamilton Street into a 220-seat black box theater. The award includes a base bid of $5.757 million and alternate bid of $27,112 for a folding partition and $41,200 for a metal roof instead of asphalt shingles.
City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said the city has approved $12 million for both a black box theater and amphitheater and even with the elimination of one project, more money would have to be raised for a parking facility. The 1,300-seat amphitheater planned at the former Hamilton Laundry site cost more than the original estimate and he recommended to commissioners first building the black box theater and creating parking at the amphitheater site for the time being given the economy and city’s looming debt, such as the school system’s $34-million renovation projects. Officials estimated some $2.73 million already has been spent on architect and engineering fees and other site preparation.
There were six bidders for the amphitheater, the lowest from Berto Construction at $4.734 million ($4.2 million base bid plus $487,000 in alternate bids). Other bidders included W.D. Snyder Co., $6.15 million, and CGT Construction, $6.21 million. The amphitheater project had to be re-bid after an issue arose with the original bids, challenged by one of the bidding companies, last fall.
Former Mayor James Kennedy, now executive director of the Rahway Arts District, said the merits of building the black box theater first are basic. A black box theater would have a year-round revenue stream while removing a building that’s been blighted for over a decade. If the amphitheater was pursued first but the project ran out of money, the blighted Bell Building would remain. In addition, the amphitheater site could provide needed parking for the black box theater.
Pelissier said parking is very stressed from Grand Avenue to the arts center so for the moment, parking is more important than an amphitheater. He said it will cost $300,000 to cap the amphitheater site anyway and another $150,000 would bring a parking lot that the Parking Authority could use as a temporary revenue stream.
As currently designed, the Hamilton Street arts projects would have 48 parking spaces but creating parking at the amphitheater site would add 86. The agency was presented with an option to add two lots, the first of which would gain 16 spaces behind four homes currently stand on Hamilton Street for a total of 134 spaces (design at right). The second lot would add 138 spaces, losing 16 to reconfiguring spaces behind the homes but adding about 36 in the area of the homes, for a total 170 spaces (design above). The first lot included parking behind the homes. (Click the images to enlarge).
The bid that was awarded only includes parking behind the black box theater but not the additional parking at the amphitheater site, Pelissier said. That would have to be designed and bid, which the administration recommended pursuing separate bids for as early as next month.
Mayor Rick Proctor called it the “most common sense” solution at the moment because of the year-round revenue available from a blackbox theater as opposed to the seven to eight months from an amphitheater. “It’s the best to prioritize use of the money we have available,” he said.

Amphitheater bids to be awarded next week

Construction bids for the amphitheater and black box theater were opened Dec. 15 and likely will be awarded by the Redevelopment Agency at its Jan. 5 meeting.

The City Council recently awarded a contract of $5,750 to Whitestone Associates to conduct survey and prepare report of “asbestos containing materials” at 324-326 Hamilton St., one of several homes that are planned to be acquired and razed for the project. The Redevelopment Agency last summer authorized acquisition of the 2 1/2-story home for $240,000, and the City Council OKed another $160,000 for asbestos surveys and other engineering-related work.

Construction bids had to be re-bid after a judge ruled there was some ambiguity in the original bids this past fall. The Redevelopment Agency originally awarded a nearly $5-million bid in October. The City Council last spring approved borrowing a $8.5 million for the Hamilton Street arts projects.

Amphitheater to be re-bid

A judge ruled this week that construction bids for the Hamilton Street amphitheater must be re-bid.

Redevelopment Director and City Administrator Peter Pelissier said there was some ambiguity about some portions of the lowest bid, which was rejected, and so the judge felt it should be re-bid.

Opening of new bids is scheduled for Dec. 15 and is scheduled to be awarded at the Dec. 22 Redevelopment Agency meeting.
Groundbreaking could occur as early as mid-January, according to City Engineer James Housten.

The Redevelopment Agency awarded a $4.95-million construction bid last month to Rahway-based Berto Construction, however, Kenilworth-based W.D. Snyder Company had the lowest base bid at $4.65 million but it was rejected as a “deficient bid proposal” for a “material breach.”

The facility originally was anticipated to open in May and be ready for use in July, said Pelissier, adding that the timeline could still be feasible.


For those interested in a district-by-district breakdown of Tuesday’s election, here they are in a Google spreadsheet. Democrats carried about 60 percent of the vote in local races, with Rick Proctor carrying 16 of 24 districts for mayor against Pat Cassio, who carried the 3rd and 6th wards. Turnout was about 48 percent.

Amphitheater construction bid awarded, held up

Construction of a 1,300-seat amphitheater on Hamilton Street was on track to begin last week — until a competing construction firm filed an injunction over losing out on the bid. A judge is scheduled to hear the case on Monday, according to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier.

The Redevelopment Agency awarded a $4.8-million base bid to Berto Construction of Rahway and another $130,761 in additional alternate bids for a total $4.95 million. A lower base bid of $4.65 million by W.D. Snyder Company was rejected as a “deficient bid proposal” for a “material breach,” Pelissier said, and the Kenilworth-based firm filed an injunction. There was a third bid, from 3R Contracting for $4.89 million.

Bids were opened on Sept. 17 and City Engineer James Housten told the Redevelopment Agency at its meeting last month that construction was on track to begin the week of Oct. 11 and be completed by June 15, 2011 — in time to open by July 4, 2011. Architects were within 10 percent of the estimate — an exceptional result, according to the administration.

The largest items in the $4.8-million base bid are for concrete ($1.083 million), electrical ($708,315), and steel ($470,573). The $130,761 alternate bids include about seven options chosen, outside of the base bid. About $27,366 was included for concrete instead of grassy walkways. City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier told commissioners that concrete would reduce maintenance needs and can be hosed down and eliminate the need for mowing. Another $36,300 was accepted for color-changing LED lighting, which Pelissier explained will add to the visual impact of performances.

Another $40,000 alternate bid was accepted for flood insurance, which would cover the costs of any damages should a flood occur during the construction, according to Pelissier. Flood insurance for the actual facility will not be needed since the facility is concrete, he said, adding that he will check with the city’s insurance broker once the project is completed.

An alternate bid of $82,000 was not included in the proposal for removable seats, which would account for 700 of the 1,300 seats in the facility and come in sections of five. Pelissier said it was unclear how the removable seats could be stored or how many people it would take to install them. “The logistics didn’t make sense,” he said.

The state Local Finance Board’s concerns about back-loaded borrowing by municipalities, according to this report last week on NorthJersey.com/The Record, would have no affect on the timetable for the amphitheater, Pelissier said. The City Council earlier this year authorized borrowing $8.5 million for construction of Arts District projects, including the $3-million amphitheater.


Here’s another write-up of the New Jersey Hot Dog Tour, which stopped at Rahway Grill, this time a more detailed piece from Serious Eats, which called the Grill “a hidden gem.”

‘Tentative thumbs up’ for amphitheater

An editorial in Monday’s Home News-Tribune, found here on MyCentralJersey.com, gives a “tentative thumbs up” to the Hamilton Street amphitheater that’s expected to break ground this fall.

The thumbs up was tentative “because of the price,” quoting city officials that estimate the $3.5-million project will cost taxpayers about $40 per year. “That’s hard to swallow, especially in these uncertain economic times.”

But they also describe the project as “ambitious” and “like the notion of a large public space to benefit many from the community and from surrounding towns.” The plan to renovate the nearby Bell Telephone building for a 200-seat black box theater and dance studio “helps maintain the city’s character,” the editorial noted, and makes reference to other cities, like Princeton, that “have successfully used the arts as an economic engine.” (Speaking of Princeton, here’s a story on a new five-story, 52-unit residential-retail complex built downtown.)

Not to quibble but for what it’s worth, the editorial also referred to a nonexistent Hamilton Avenue (it’s Hamilton Street in Rahway).

Council approves $400k for acquisition

The City Council last week approved a $400,000 bond ordinance for the acquisition, demolition and remediation of 324 Hamilton St. The 2 1/2-story home is one of four remaining near the site of the proposed amphitheater at the former Hamilton Laundry property.

The Redevelopment Agency last month adopted a resolution to acquire the home for $240,000. In addition to the sale price, the ordinance includes $35,000 for demolition and asbestos removal, $10,000 for tank removal and asbestos survey, $32,000 for engineers, with the other costs for financing and bond issuance, according to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier.

A home adjacent to the amphitheater site was razed earlier this year after the agency purchased it for $340,000, spending another $35,000 for demolition. Five homes in all between the site of the future amphitheater and the Bell building have been targeted for acquisition, with plans to eventually raze them all to create parking for the arts district projects.


The Star-Ledger’s Munchmobile went through Rahway again recently, this time in search of the best burgers.

They said Flynn’s Irish Pub & Steakhouse “lives up to its claim as ‘a little bit of Ireland in downtown Rahway,'” but the steakhouse burger wasn’t “breaking down any doors,” though they were cited for having the best onion rings – “crackly, and slightly, agreeably greasy.”

Flynn’s you might recall was tops in our poll last spring for Best Burger.

Council approves consulting contracts

City Council on Monday night awarded two more contracts to Princeton-based Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects for work related to Arts District projects.

The first was a professional services contract of $264,070 for architectural consulting services to “prepare construction documents and LEED services” for the reuse of the Bell Building (photo above).

A second resolution awarded a professional services contract of $115,570 for “consulting services relative to conducting bidding and construction administration and observation” for the amphitheater.

The council also awarded a contract last month to Farewell Mills Gatsch. City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said each phase of the project is awarded separately “to keep control of the costs associated with preparation of the bid specifications.”