Plan Changes Will Permit Rehab
The original redevelopment plan called for construction of a new mixed use structure with up to 96 residential units on the site at 130-140 East Second Street and 200-206 Gavett Place. But the present owner wants to rehabilitate the building for retail use on the first floor and 12 apartments on the upper floors, Nierstedt said.
"As this is different than what the redevelopment plan calls for, the Planning Board cannot hear the application, and the board is recommending that the City Council adopt an amendment to the plan," he said.
Nierstedt said the board is of the opinion that current economic conditions "make it impractical to implement the plan" as it was originally proposed. The amendment would allow for the rehabilitation and also require the developer to provide parking.
The council agreed to put the matter up for a vote at its Monday (May 10) meeting, 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.
The former furniture warehouse has been open to the elements for several years. A previous failed project touted on a large sign earned the building the ironic nickname, "Luxury Condos." It has a covered walkway on East Second Street to protect pedestrians from falling debris.
The building now is owned by a subsidiary of Frank Cretella's Landmark Developers, Gavett Place Properties LLC. Passersby last winter could hear work going on inside the building, but the developer was issued a stop-work order and fined $2,000 for not having a permit.
Cretella has also acquired the former Romond Jeep building at 158 East Second Street and the adjacent Budget Rent-A-Car site on Gavett Place, where he proposes a complex with 20 apartments and commercial uses on the ground floor. That project is dubbed Arts Loft I LLC.
Other Cretella subsidiaries are Certified Green Property One LLC at 212-216 Park Avenue with four apartments over ground-floor retail space, Next Step to Collins Avenue LLC at 226-232 Park Avenue with 12 apartments over ground-floor retail space, Front Street Offices LLC at 216-232 West Front Street with 50,000 square feet of commercial space. All have received various approvals.
Another one, West Second Street Commons, would have 100 apartments and 11,500 square feet of commercial space on the PNC Bank block, but has not yet received any approvals.