The Redevelopment Agency last night approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Meridia Water’s Edge, LLC, to develop a 108-unit rental complex on a three-quarter acre site adjacent to Rahway Public Library and the Center Circle sports complex on Main Street. (A revised rendering is in this Google document; once I can convert it into a .jpg, it’ll be added to this post).
Pompton Plains-based Capodagli Property Company initially proposed 116 units in a presentation to the agency in April, with 91 parking spaces. The number of spaces remain the same as in the original plan and an arrangement to use some 12 to 18 spaces in nearby municipal lots would have to be pursued.
The original plan called for 96 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units; the revised plan presented last night includes 52 two-bedroom units and 56 one-bedrooms (42 of which will also have an office, some 50 square feet larger overall). Two-bedroom units would be 816 square feet. The plans note that a “market study will determine actual unit mix, sizes, placement and phases of development.”
George Capodagli told commissioners that he has a “firm commitment” from a bank and wants to close on the property soon. The Redevelopment Agency last month designated Capodagli as redeveloper, agreeing to sell the parcel for $1 million. The developer will be responsible for the cost of removing soil that’s been on the site from library construction earlier in the decade.
At closing, $500,000 will be due to the Redevelopment Agency and the second $500,000 of the sale price will be due upon the final Certificate of Occupancy (CO). The cost of soil removal will be credited toward the developer’s second payment but City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier expects the agency should still yield at least half of that payment. The city’s engineers will oversee and monitor the soil removal estimates and process, and Capodgali said his firm will do the work at cost.
Next, the City Council must approve amendments to the redevelopment plan, to be introduced next week and approved next month. The Planning Board also will be presented with plans later this month for recommendation to City Council before it considers site plan approval, likely at its September meeting.
There was some discussion about the project being within a flood plain. Commissioner Timothy Nash asked how residents would get into the building should the area be two to three feet under water. Capodagli said they likely would not have access to the building and the management company would have to make provisions for that and to disclose that in lease agreements. The back of the project would abut the levee, next to the property line with Rahway Plaza Apartments — toward the back of the library parking lot — while the front entrance would face the Center Circle complex (forming a sort of triangle that’s flatted at the top, which would be the front entrance. Got it? Working on uploading/scanning designs).
Officials were confident though that the area has not flooded since the levee was built along the Rahway River. Nash recalled Tropical Storm Floyd in September 1999 — which destroyed the former library where Berzinec Park is today — as the worst flooding situation and the site did not flood then.
Interesting story from NPR last month (“How A Park Helped One Town Weather The Recession”) about Greenville, S.C., and its development efforts, which included a $13-million, 20-acre downtown park and public garden created in 2004. Within two years, it’s estimated that $100 million in private investment occurred around the park. Sounds like a success story akin to New York City’s new High Line Park, which is looking to be replicated elsewhere. But there’s more to it – obviously – than just the park. It’s worth the quick read/listen.