Friday, December 15, 2006

Dornoch Leads Development Parade

As the year winds down, only one transit-oriented development plan has made it to site plan approval.

The administration of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs called earlier this year for a “transit village” approach to redevelopment that would allow increased density around the city’s two existing train stations and two West End locations where stations used to be. But a developer whose South Avenue project was supposed to be the pioneer in the concept failed to get Board of Adjustment approval and dropped plans for a second proposal on South Avenue.

Two developers received 90-day conditional designations in August, but the anticipated redevelopment agreements have not materialized. A developer who proposed a large project on East Third Street just received conditional designation on Dec. 6.

The scorecard:

Dornoch Plainfield LLC – In July, the mayor told seniors about a plan to build a new senior center with 63 condos above it at 400 East Front Street. Developer Glen Fishman has since received several City Council approvals for various steps and on Dec. 7 received Planning Board approval for the site plan. The council agreed Nov. 22 to turn the city-owned tract over to the Union County Improvement Authority for an undisclosed “nominal fee” and to authorize the mayor to sign off on purchase and sale documents. Fishman said he will pay the $15 million construction cost and the center will be built at no cost to the city.

AST Development Corp. – The Lavallette firm that built the four-story office building downtown received conditional designation to redevelop the Marino’s tract on West Front Street, with a supermarket as the anchor. The 90-day period elapsed last month but can be extended.

Landmark Development Corp. – The Jersey City developer proposes residential and commercial revitalization in the city’s original North Avenue business district across from the main train station. Historic 19th century building facades will be retained, but modern buildings in the district may be replaced. The city approved a redevelopment plan but it may be expanded. Landmark’s conditional designation also expired last month without a developer’s agreement in place.

Capodagli Property Company – The developer proposes 352 residential units in five buildings at East Third and Richmond streets, with 700 parking spaces at ground level. The Pompton Plains company plans to phase in development, starting with the former Cozzoli Machinery site. After a flurry of meetings in August and September to approve a redevelopment study and plan, the developer did not receive conditional designation until Dec. 6.

Maxim Development Group – Sal Carfaro planned to demolish his auto repair company on South Avenue to put up 64 condos within a quarter-mile of the Netherwood train station, but the Board of Adjustment rejected the plan in September. Had he received approval, Carfaro planned a second condo project on South Avenue. Carfaro and partner Patrick Gawrysiak also ran into problems with projects in New London, Conn. and Seneca Falls, N.Y. A news article this week in The Day of New London detailed Maxim’s situation and even mentioned the failed Plainfield venture.

All the current redevelopment projects are in the hands of the UCIA, with city approvals at needed junctures. On Aug. 23, the City Council approved an interlocal services agreement making the UCIA the city’s “redevelopment entity.”

--Bernice Paglia


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