Friday, February 09, 2007

Odds and Ends on Redevelopment, SID

A sliver of land just 10 feet wide is one of the more interesting parcels that Paramount Property Management acquired in its recent purchase of Pittis Estate properties in Plainfield.

The narrow band runs between two city-owned plots in Municipal Lot 6, behind Bill’s Luncheonette and other East Front Street businesses. The parking lot was under scrutiny for redevelopment in 2005 until Planning Board Chairman Ken Robertson called a halt to all redevelopment until the new administration took over in 2006.

Now the parking lot and other parts of Block 316 have been declared “in need of redevelopment” as part of the proposed expansion of the North Avenue tract, along with the PNC Bank block to the west.

Besides being part of the study area, the unusual parcel is among 436 properties that were assessed a surtax to support activities in the Special Improvement District. Paramount will now be the biggest single contributor to the SID. In the assessment roll for 2004, the Pittis Estate chipped in a major portion of the SID tax, including $4.45 for the 10-foot-wide parcel.

The SID has been expanded and its budget for 2006-07 was approved late last year, but so far no new assessment roll has been published. Half the budget is supposed to come from the surtax and the other half is from Urban Enterprise Zone funds. Obviously, if the expanded SID tax is not assessed and collected, the budget on paper doesn’t mean very much.

Rambling back to the redevelopment issue, an expansion of the North Avenue redevelopment area will most likely impact talks that began in August with Landmark Development Corporation, which received a 90-day conditional designation and then a 60-day extension that runs out this month. The study that showed need for redevelopment of the PNC Bank block and the south portion of Block 316 will have to be followed up with a revised redevelopment plan before a contract can be finalized.

(Correction: the other one is AST for the Marino's tract.) The other developer whose extended conditional designation runs out this month is Capodagli Property Company, proposing 352 condos in five buildings at East Third and Richmond streets. Across the street from the site, the Richmond Beer Garden appears to have gone dark. All the signage is gone. No longer can one muse on the juxtaposition of a go-go bar with a fancy new condo project.

--Bernice Paglia


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