Wednesday, July 02, 2008

City, Developer to Discuss Senior Center Schedule

The developer of a four-story building with a new senior center and 63 condos may not meet a third anticipated deadline for completion, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs said Tuesday (July 1, 2008).

Robinson-Briggs told seniors that she posed the question at a regular monthly meeting whether Dornoch Holdings would meet a stated September/October completion date and the answer was negative. As a result, the developer and attorneys will meet today (July 2, 2008) with city officials to discuss the situation.

Dornoch received the city-owned land at 400 East Front Street in January 2007 for one dollar. At that time, the developer anticipated completion by the end of the year and promised seniors a holiday party in their new center.

But then the completion date was moved up to Spring 2008, and then to Fall.

Seniors have a Building Committee that meets monthly to receive updates on progress at the new center. Currently, seniors meet in leased space about a block away from the proposed new center.

Robinson-Briggs told seniors Tuesday the most recent talks included details such as whether seniors could barbecue out back and have a bicycle rack installed, but then she said she point-blank asked whether the project was on schedule and the project manager’s answer, after a pause, was, “No.”

The mayor said she has been watching the progress and recently saw just a handful or workers at the East Front Street site, in contrast to a Habitat for Humanity project on Lee Place where she estimated the crew at about 40 people. She called the situation “unacceptable,” adding, “Yes, I love everybody – we’re friends. But this is business.”

The East Front Street project, dubbed “The Monarch,” is a privately-funded project tabbed at $15 million. Dornoch has other projects throughout Central Jersey.

A contract with the city’s redevelopment entity, the Union County Improvement Authority, called for completion within two years, but allowed the developer to give reasons in writing for any delay. The authority would then have 60 days to decide whether the reasons were acceptable.

Plaintalker asked Councilman Rashid Burney, a member of the governing body’s Economic Development Committee, for comment Tuesday. Burney replied, “I fully expect the building to be completed by Fall of this year. That was the deal. We have kept our end of the bargain, and I trust the meeting between Dornoch and the administration will put the project back on track for completion this fall.“

Besides the East Front Street project, the city has nearly 20 other redevelopment schemes, but few have moved forward as economic conditions have declined. Several were pinned to hopes of a transit village concept in which higher density would be allowed around train stations. But the city has never received official transit village designation from the state.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fall 2008 runs from September 22nd through December 22nd. I guess they still have a chance to deliver. Don't they?

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completion will only occur if Rashid Burney & crew and this includes Assembelyman Green agree to rental apartments vs the promised equity ownership/market rate condos. The cynics or realist bet this would happen. I am surprised Rashid Burney, who prizes himself as a real estate expert, didn't see this coming. Listen up seniors! This debacle is another reason to throw the rascals out of office.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like we really need more rentals in Plainfield....

Can't the administration do anything riight?

12:54 PM  

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