Sunday, March 08, 2009

Cretella Unveils Downtown Plans

Transforming the former Romond's Garage into a modern, five-story building is just part of developer Frank Cretella's vision for downtown Plainfield. He also see an entertainment venue on Gavett Place and new stores where he hopes to lure "second-time entrepreneurs" with free rent for a year.

Cretella, architect Jose Carballo and attorney Jay Bohn came before the Planning Board Thursday seeking approvals for two applications: Certified Green Property One, LLC, at 214-24 Park Avenue would convert a vacant building to ground-floor retail space and four apartments on two upper floors. Art Lofts I, LLC, proposes first-floor retail and 20 apartments on four upper floors at 152-58 East Second Street. Both sites are in the North Avenue Historic District.

Cretella recently brought forward plans for two other sites and said Thursday he expects to add 100 units downtown and even more later.

Plaintalker described the Park Avenue proposal in a blog post about the Historic Preservation Commission meeting where Cretella's team sought a review and recommendations to the land use board for 214-24 Park Avenue and also the former Courier News building next door. Cretella also has plans for the PNC Bank building, he said.

Planning Board members questioned the size of proposed apartments for Certified Green Property One, LLC, but Carballo said, "That is the space we have within the building."

Because the building takes up the whole lot, there will be no open space or onsite parking. Cretella said a traffic study indicated an abundance of parking downtown at municipal lots, as much as 350 spaces at any given time. Parking is not a requirement downtown anyway, officials said.

With no room for Dumpsters, trash will be stored in the basement until pickup and storage for tenants will also be in a separate section of the basement.

After a few more questions, the board granted preliminary site plan approval for the Park Avenue proposal.

As explained by Carballo, the East Second Street proposal includes Romond's Garage and an adjacent lot at the corner of Gavett Place. A modern five-story building would be erected, incorporating the garage and wrapping around the corner. A stage would be part of the site, facing the main train station. There would be four stores on the first floor and apartments on upper floors would be equipped with Magic Pak heating and cooling units in special closets with just venting grills flush with the exterior.

Again, no onsite parking will be provided for the 20 units, but some will have balconies for open space. Cretella said he hopes to have events such as car shows and a farmer's market on the Gavett Place side, where a city-owned lot could be made into a lawn. If Gavett Place was closed off, he said, the site could hold a "couple hundred" people for weekend events.
After more discussion on where tenants might park, the application also won preliminary site plan approval. Councilman Cory Storch, the board's council liaison, praised the project, especially the entertainment and event aspect.
"I'm very pleased with the whole concept," he said.
Dr. Scott Rufolo of Plainfield Vision Center, next door to Romond's , said he was "very excited" by the plan.
Cretella said he expects to start with the Park Avenue projects and work on the East Second Street proposal next.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a huge mistake to not include parking for the residences in this or any development plans. Downtown congestion will become a nightmare if there is inadequate parking. Also, the people that we would want to attract to the residential spaces are going to want parking. Money can still be made by charging rental fees for spaces.
I naturally distrust developers and their designs. Plainfield should entertain architect designs for redeveloping the area, then negotiate with developers. Alos, city planning should look for communities that succesfully created beautiful downtown areas with open public spaces, plantings and areas to sit and rest.
how about having a contest for architectural students?- whoever gets the winning design gets a $5,000 stipend. I'll bet they would come up with a better plan than this.
Lastly, if Plainfield does not address the issue of crime and gang
presence, people will not come to the area for commerce. There are too many other business districts in the surrounding areas that are not thought of as unsafe. There are also many vacant stores, shops in the malls in the area. If no one if filling them, why do we think ours will be desirable?

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am confused. On one hand there are already plans for the downtown, and on the other hand I listened at the Economic Development Committee Meeting last week that there was a plan for visioning, with Rutgers and NJIT, about what redevelopment on Plainfield should look like with the residents' vision included. The downtown area was mentioned, but if we are already getting a developer with an approved vision, why spend &65K on a plan that could clash with the developer's plan.

It would be nice if can get more of a clear direction on where Plainfield's development plans are going before we spend any money on any more studies.

Maria Pellum

2:54 PM  
Anonymous joanna cassidy said...

i agree with anonymous at 10.47 am.
parking spaces are would cretella know,does he live in town? i think not.this is nothing more than pulling the wool over peoples eyes.hurry up and build it-no one will ever know.instead of building more housing,fix the buildings that are empty.never mind building more.i for one do not shop in town.i dont see any stores what impress and nail stores and cell phone stores. so before they design anything,use what you have.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read from a few of your poster about Plainfield shopping area being considered "unsafe". When was the last time we had a robbery in our downtown area? What statistics bear out this feeling of "unsafe". Unattractive yes...unsafe -- I don't get where that is coming from and would be interested to find out more...

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the 4:09pm poster

Perception is reality and the perception is that downtown is not safe. Perhaps if the city had a PR department that could mitigate some of the erroneous perceptions, this would not be an issue.

3:24 PM  

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