The Redevelopment Agency amended an agreement to lease the Hamilton Stage for Performing Arts to the Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC) from 10 years to 30 years while authorizing the final $100,000 payment to the Rahway Arts District.
Two months after rejecting bids for the amphitheater parking lot project, the Redevelopment Agency awarded a $1.1-million contract to Gingerelli Bros at its meeting earlier this month. Berto Construction submitted a bid of $1.6 million. Bids were received July 29.
A pre-construction meeting is scheduled for next week, City Engineer James Housten said, after which construction should begin, including work on drainage, stream bank stabilization, curbing and lighting foundations. Work is expected to be completed in conjunction with renovations of the Hamilton Stage, which is expecting to be finished in the spring. Toms River-based Gingerelli Bros. also is the firm that was awarded the $5.825-million contract for the Hamilton Stage.
The Redevelopment Agency early this year decided to delay building the amphitheater and instead build about 115 parking spaces in the interim.
The center stairs of the inbound platform of Rahway Train Station finally opened today, approximately 18 months after they were closed for repairs. 18 months. NJ Transit also issued an advisory this week that as part of repairs to the elevator on the outbound platform (which are expected to last until early next month), travelers will not be able to use the sidewalk to the corner of Milton Avenue and Broad Street from Monday to Thursday of next week due to the installation of a pump and tank next to the pedestrian tunnel.
It’s long overdue for some details about the city’s bond sale this past spring that I promised last month when I posted the city’s top 10 property taxpayers.
The city borrowed almost $12 million in general improvement bonds, including almost $8 million for redevelopment- and arts-related items.
Ten of the 22 items in the $11.765 million bond sale were related to redevelopment, totaling $7.78 million for redevelopment, more than half of it related to the Hamilton Street arts projects. About $783,750 was authorized in 2007, which covered architectural concept plans, planning and engineering, surveying, DEP permitting, floor plans and elevations, and demolition of the Hamilton Laundry building. Another $4.5 million was authorized last year, but only $3 million borrowed so far, for the Arts District’s amphitheater, which would cover the renovation of the Bell Building (now referred to as the Hamilton Stage), construction of the amphitheater, acquisition of arts related equipment and eventual acquisition of the Elizabethtown Gas building (Block 167, Lot 1).
A breakdown of the 10 items, some dating back to 2000, can be found in this Excel file, including the amounts authorized and bonds issued, along with a brief description. At the April bond sale, the city secured a rate just below 4.51 percent over 20 years from J.P. Morgan (UBS Financial was the other bidder, coming in at under 4.59 percent). The bonds mature annually on April, beginning in 2012 at $350,000, increasing to $450,000 in 2015, $550,000 in 2016, $560,000 in 2017 and $640,000 in 2018, before leveling out at $700,000 annually through 2030. The complete maturity schedule can be found in this Excel file.
In tomorrow’s post, we’ll take a look at what Standard & Poor’s had to say in its report on the city.
NJ Monthly magazine’s Table Hopping with Rosie paid a visit to Patria Restaurant and Mixology Lounge. She called it “a place in NJ that should be on your must-try list.” Overall, she had quite a few good things to say, calling the garlic shrimp better than anything found in Newark, and advising not to miss some entrees (including Patria pork, and I must agree) as well as dessert.
The Redevelopment Agency rejected two bids for construction of interim parking at the site of the proposed Hamilton Street amphitheater. A new bid could be awarded by next month.
The two bidders — Berto Construction and Gingerelli Bros. — were about $500,000 apart, one reason why they were rejected, according to City Engineer James Housten, though seven contractors purchased bid packets. (Gingerelli Bros. earlier this year was awarded the $5.825-million bid for the Hamilton Stage project at the Bell Building.)
When the Redevelopment Agency decided several months ago to put the amphitheater on hold and instead build an interim parking lot at the Hamilton Street site, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) determined that a different permit would be required, Housten said. Meetings with state officials, however, have led to a more favorable recommendation, he said, with the process and cost to a less than if the agency had followed the DEP’s original edict and see another permit.
Part of the bid included removing remediated soil, which Housten said will be tested and determined exactly what it contains and how much there is. That process might provide for less expensive bids when the project goes out to bid next week. He hopes to have a resolution to award a new contract at the agency’s August meeting.
Early this year, the Redevelopment Agency decided to delay building the amphitheater and instead construct an interim parking lot to accommodate the Hamilton Stage. Commissioners also held off on acquiring three remaining homes on Hamilton Street that were slated to eventually become parking areas.
Facing a potential cost of roughly $1 million to acquire and demolish three homes to turn into parking for Hamilton Street arts projects, the Redevelopment Agency appears to be putting that move on hold for the time being.
Renovations to the former Bell Telephone building on Hamilton Street got under way this week. The goal is to transform the vacant structure into a 200-seat black box theater by this time next year, along with parking on adjacent sites that had been planned as an amphitheater.
With costs rising and taxpayers facing those expenses, as well as a $34-million school bond project approved in September 2009, the Redevelopment Agency decided to move ahead with the black box theater while putting the amphitheater on hold for the time being in favor of parking. The thinking was that a black box theater could provide year-round revenue versus the seven or eight months the amphitheater could provide while also reactivating building that has laid fallow for years. The site of the proposed amphitheater could provide needed parking in the meantime, for the black box theater and the Arts District in general.
The City Council is poised to approve, at its meeting next month, a $1.6-million amendment to a $8.5-million bond ordinance approved last spring for the Hamilton Arts District projects. The additional $1.6 million would cover the costs of parking at the amphitheater site and other associated “soft costs,” for engineering and architecture.
If you agreed that the link earlier this week was pretty wonky, this one is very wonky: From the American Planning Association, “How Arts and Cultural Strategies Create, Reinforce and Enhance a Sense of Place” is a little on the long side at about 3,500 words but breaks down some key points about public art, arts and cultural programming, and urban infrastructure and design, while also citing a number of examples of cities around the country.
Earlier this year, Princeton University scrapped a plan for a $300-million arts and transit neighborhood project for the area around the Dinky. The first phase would have included a 145,000-square-foot performing arts building and the second phase would have added an additional 130,000 square feet of arts space.
The City Council last week introduced an amendment to add $1.6 million to a bond ordinance to cover additional costs associated with the Hamilton Street Arts District projects. A public hearing and final adoption is scheduled at the April 11 council meeting.
The governing body approved two bond ordinances and introduced six others last Monday to borrow funds for various improvements or equipment. We’ll break down the ordinances related to redevelopment projects in the coming weeks.
An $8.5-million bond ordinance, originally adopted in March 2010, was amended to $10.1 million. The extra $1.6 million would cover additional expenses that were presented to the Redevelopment Agency earlier this month, . The original ordinance included funds for the renovation of the Bell Building into a 200-seat black box theater and related equipment, acquisition of nearby homes for eventual parking, and the future acquisition of the Elizabethtown Gas building at the corner of Hamilton Street and Central Avenue. The $1.6 million would cover, among others things, construction of a parking lot behind the Bell Building and a temporary lot where an 1,100-seat amphitheater is planned.
A pretty wonky read, Next American City magazine offers a roundtable entitled The Art of Change, with three experts discussing, among other things, what cities can do to support the arts. Not too long but relevant considering Rahway’s efforts to make the arts a cornerstone of redevelopment efforts. One of the roundtable participants is president of Americans for the Arts, which recently released a study indicating that 41 percent of nonprofit arts groups last year failed to meet a balanced budget, up from 38 percent in 2008, with the “health of the sector at a 12-year low.”