Monday, August 03, 2009

Where Are the Snow Jobs of Yesteryear?

Pardon the insouciance. Maybe it comes from sitting through countless hours of land use hearings for projects whose promise has not lived up to reality.

Let's see, there was the 344-unit project in the East End where the developer withdrew after receiving approvals. The same developer has won approval in Rahway to change a 72-condo proposal into 88 rental units. Both are on a list of "completed projects" on the developer's web site.

A 224-unit proposal never made it out of the back room after neighbors got wind of it.

A 500-unit project has not gotten off the ground except for a couple of approvals for a few apartments.

A 12-unit condo plan was approved and then melted away somehow as the same developer turned his Rahway project into rentals.

The 99-lot Netherwood study fizzled down to 15 lots and no more has been heard.

Maybe this is just the view from the poop deck of the Good Ship Plainfield as these projects sailed off to oblivion, but it points up the need for more transparency and facts when developers come singing their siren songs.

Luckily, there is a high degree of public interest in carefully examining a couple of current proposals to spur development. One is the tax abatement deal for The Monarch to ward off possible conversion to rentals instead of condos. The other is the proposal for more than 100 apartments to be built on the PNC Bank block. There seems to be a contradiction here - why are rentals bad in one situation but good a few blocks away? That is only one of the questions. The fiscal issues are getting attention from citizens and officials alike, albeit with no consensus so far. August should prove to be a very interesting month as Plainfielders seek a balance between hope and hard facts.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rentals are not bad for the market. Low income rentals, which Plfd already has its fair share of, are bad for the market. Most major cities are bulldozing them and replacing them with communities that have them blended with market rate units. Makes them part of a community and less of a haven for crime and drugs. It still comes down to spot zoning. All these plans with no master plan to dictate what we want.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are we building more housing, given the amount of houses on the market already?

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice, how many of those big redevelopment projects you list were discussed and acted on prior to January 1, 2006? I seem to remember an enormous list that came from Al McWilliams' economic development person, and I think some, maybe even most, were among the ones you mention. Many were just too big or in the wrong places and some were just bad ideas to begin with from developers who didn't give a damn about Plainfield.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

All on the list were post-January 2006. North Avenue had a plan but no developer. Landmark was named in 2006.
The pre-2006 list included Marino's, Macy's block, Arlington Heights and studies for Downtown Station South, North Avenue Industrial Corridor and East Second Street Commercial Area, all fallow to my knowledge. Tepper's changed from luxury senior housing to 75 apartments for families and the city-owned portion has not yet been occupied.
Of those new since 2006, Maxim's South Avenue project was rejected by the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the East Third/Richmond guy withdrew, Heartstone stepped away, Landmark is still here with smaller projects and Omnipointe did not go forward. The proposal for 100+ apartments on the PNC block was recently withdrawn from the council agenda.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are all little fish in the big sea of real estate. Politically connected?? Maybe?? But they are not the real deal developers like KHov, Toll Bros, etc, etc that can actually get financing for projects and do not need HMFA money to do it. Thats who we need to look to to get anything actually built. But first, we need a plan. Well thought, organized and that can actually be built. Start on North Ave at the train and grow from there.

2:25 PM  

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