At the last meeting of the year, Roselle Park’s governing body approved to fund special counsel, planning services, and a redevelopment plan for what is commonly known as the Sullivan property at the intersection of Westfield Avenue at Chestnut Street.
Mayor Carl Hokanson had previously spoken of using eminent domain for the property that used to be the old Sullivan Chevrolet dealership by declaring it an Area In Need Of Redevelopment. This is the first step in using the mechanism that allows a government agency to condemn private property so it can be used for purposes such as development.
Now going on eight years of being empty, the dealership closed in 2009. It was purchased in 2011 by Sal Garcia and a plan by his company, MAS Construction, to develop the property with an AutoZone and other unknown retail spaces was denied by the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) in 2015. The two lots that make up the property have been empty since then.
Council approved the firm of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, LLC to act as special counsel for the proposed plan. This is the same firm that handled the Meridia At Roselle Park project earlier this year which originally had eight properties listed as an Area In Need Of Redevelopment. In July of last year, the developer – Capodagli Property Company (CPC) – had their site plan approved by the MLUB for a 213-unit apartment development with the first floor reserved for 5,000 sq. ft. of retail space geared towards a restaurant.
Due to an apparent conflict of interest, the borough’s engineering firm – Neglia Engineering – was not appointed to prepare the redevelopment plan. Benecke Economics was appointed to prepare the plan for $20,000. This amount is $6,500 less than Neglia Engineering charged for the development plan for Meridia but an additional $12,000 was approved to have Benecke Economics to conduct planning services for the project.
The next step in the process will have the MLUB designate the property as an Area In Need Of Redevelopment. This property was one of 11 properties that the MLUB had recommended to be considered for development as part of the borough’s Master Plan.