VFW building demolished

The former VFW Post building on Campbell Street came down last week to make room for more parking for the Rahway Branch of the YMCA.

Preparations for demolition began about two weeks ago with much of the structure razed last week.

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Thanks to Andrew Garcia Phillips for the images in the slideshow.

The Rahway Branch of the YMCA purchased the 0.3-acre site (1491 Campbell St. / Block 153, Lot 28), last summer for $102,500, according to property records. The total tax assessment was $284,500, with the building assessed for $183,700 and the land assessed for $100,800. Both the VFW and the YMCA are nonprofits so they are exempt from property taxes.

VFW building cornerstoneThe building was home to VFW Post 681 but also served as a house of worship of the years.. The cornerstone on the building read “Evang’L Lutheran Zion Church A.D. 1922” and I’m told the facility also served as a synagogue at some point. Most recently, I recall Spanish congregation using the building.

The YMCA will use the site to connect to its present parking lot, according to a press release. This is the latest adjacent parcel added to the YMCA’s property. The Redevelopment Agency acquired several properties along Campbell Street in 2002 and 2003, including 1511 Campbell St. (Block 153, Lot 31) and 1505 Campbell St. (Block 153, Lot 30), a city-owned lot.

In 2004, the YMCA signed a 50-year lease with the Redevelopment Agency for the adjacent lots and eventually transformed them for use as a parking lot, pavilion and playground for summer day camp and youth sports activities. That essentially left one property (1525 Campbell St., Block 153, Lot 34) that still stands today surrounded by several Y-controlled parcels.

The demolition of the VFW building essentially leaves four residential properties along the stretch of Campbell Street between Central Avenue and Elm Avenue; one property on the corner of Central Avenue that went into foreclosure last year, and three from the corner of Elm up to the former VFW building site.