YMCA to raze VFW building for parking

The 100-year-old VFW Post 681 building on Campbell Street will be demolished for more parking for the Gateway YMCA-Rahway Branch.

VFW building
Photo by D. Palmer

Fencing currently surrounds the building at 1491 Campbell St. (Block 153, Lot 28), which had been on the market for several years, though there’s no word on when demolition will occur. The building also had been being used in recent years as a house of worship for a Spanish congregation.

The Y plans to raze the building and add additional parking connecting to its present parking lot, according to a press release from the organization. It’s unclear precisely how many spaces the new lot will accommodate.

The roughly 1/3-acre site was acquired by the Rahway Branch YMCA in August for $102,500, according to property records. It has an overall tax assessment of $284,500 but both the VFW and YMCA are nonprofits so they are exempt from property taxes. (The assessment normally would yield a property tax bill of about $18,177, based on an overall 2016 tax rate of $6.389 per $100 of assessed value. The land assessment of $100,800 alone would generate taxes of about $6,440 if it was not exempt.)

The parcel will add another lot to the YMCA property, leaving essentially one home (1525 Campbell St.) surrounded by several Y-controlled lots. Most of those lost were acquired in the early 2000s, including 1505 Campbell St. (Block 153, Lot 30) and 1511 Campbell St. (Block 153, Lot 31). In 2004, the Y signed a 50-year lease with the Redevelopment Agency for those parcels, which were purchased and combined over the years, ultimately constructing a surface parking lot, outdoor pavilion and play field for summer day camp and youth sports activities.

Photo By D. Palmer

In 2015, the Rahway Branch of the YMCA completed a 17,000-square-foot, $3.4-million expansion and renovation of its building at 1564 Irving St. The project included a complete restoration of three floors that had been vacant for more than 30 years since a fire in 1981. The upgrades included, among other things, five artist loft workspaces on the upper floors as well as a new lobby and front entrance on Irving Street and a member lounge.

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