Monday, June 09, 2008

Capodagli Proposal to be Dropped

A major project that was fast-tracked in 2006 may now be defunct, according to a proposed City Council resolution.

The East Third/Richmond tract was the subject of an emergency Saturday morning Planning Board meeting on Sept. 23, 2006 to adopt an “in need of redevelopment” study, followed by adoption on Oct. 18, 2006 of a redevelopment plan. On Dec. 6, 2006, the City Council named Capodagli Property Company LLC as the redeveloper.

Since then, not much has happened and the resolution up for discussion tonight (Monday, June 9) would withdraw and terminate both the designation and authorization for a redeveloper’s agreement.

The ambitious plan called for 352 residential units in five buildings at East Third and Richmond streets, with 700 parking spaces at ground level. A small commercial portion was to be built at Richmond Street and Cottage Place, abutting the Raritan Valley Line train tracks. Construction was supposed to start on the site of the former Cozzoli Machinery company, but the site was later found to be contaminated.

Click here for two earlier Plaintalker posts on the project. The company's link, which has the proposal on a list of completed projects, is here.

Capodagli’s firm was also found to be on the state debarment list, meaning it could not get any public contracts until April 2007 for infractions against labor policies.

The firm’s conditional designation as redeveloper was extended in April 2007 and again in May 2007, but eventually expired. According to the resolution up for approval this month, the city and its designated redevelopment agency, the Union County Improvement Authority, failed to come up with an acceptable redevelopment agreement for the site. The resolution states that the city and the Authority "otherwise seek to provide for redevelopment" of the site.

In earlier hearings on the matter, both the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority and the owner of a longtime family business objected to the plan. PMUA representatives said they had already invested $2 million in plans to consolidate operations and headquarters on the site. Members of the Thul family questioned the plan, saying it would cause displacement of their family's 93-year-old machinery business.

The council’s agenda-fixing session is 7:30 p.m. tonight in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice Paglia


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