An ordinance which will approve the redevelopment plan for 10 West Westfield Avenue which is locally known as the Sullivan property is on the agenda for Thursday night’s municipal meeting.
A process that started officially in May of last year has worked its way through the workings of government to arrive at Ordinance 2544 sixteen months later.
According to New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment & Housing Law (LRHL), redevelopment is the “clearance, re-planning, development and redevelopment; the conservation and rehabilitation of any structure or improvement, the construction and provision for construction of residential, commercial, industrial, public or other structures and the grant or dedication of spaces as may be appropriate or necessary in the interest of the general welfare for streets, parks, playgrounds, or other public purposes, including recreational and other facilities incidental or appurtenant thereto, in accordance with the development plan.”
A redevelopment plan’s objective is to formalize a municipality’s intent for use of land or area that has been deemed An Area In Need Of Redevelopment and to, basically, re-zone an area for specific development. This designation is first needed to determine if a property or area has met one of eight (8) criteria which range from being a blight, unsafe, dilapidated, vacant, or destroyed by fire, just to name a few. Once designated, the municipal government along with the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) – in Roselle Park’s instance – conducts an investigation of the area, prepares a study, reviews and approves the study, and prepares a redevelopment plan. The plan is the limits by which a developer – any developer – can build on a property ot area.
At a hearing in October of last year, Fred Suljic from Benecke Economics, the firm hired by the governing body to conduct the study and prepare the redevelopment plan, called a redevelopment plan ‘a blank slate’ and explained, “The redevelopment plan is actually your re-zoning. You can either, amongst yourselves, start deciding what criteria you want the consultant to put in or if you don’t have a really good idea . . . think amongst yourselves.”
In other words, by the plan being a blank slate, it could be something that starts with a town’s vision and then proceeds to realization. In theory, a redevelopment plan could be prepared by a municipality to determine what it would like to see developed in a certain redevelopment area and then have developers and interested parties review that plan and either begin negotiations or simply agree to build to the plan’s specifications. In reality, most times a redevelopment plan is created in conjunction with a developer that has not been officially picked put will have input on how the redevelopment plan will be structured. This is the case with the plan for 10 West Westfield Avenue.
Capodagli Property Company (CPC) is the currently contracted purchaser of the Sullivan property which is owned by MAS Development. Three years ago, the MLUB voted down the site plan presented by MAS Development owner Sal Garcia for an all-commercial development with no apartments (link). The 4½ acre property, which is a combination of two lots, has been vacant since the Sullivan Chevrolet car dealership closed almost a decade ago in 2009.
CPC is proposing a six-story apartment complex at the site called Meridia At Park Square with between 370 to 380 apartments with the first floor – around 17,000 square feet – dedicated to commercial/retail space. The developer has already been awarded the development at the former Domani’s/Yesterday’s restaurant site further west along Westfield Avenue. That site is currently under construction and is slated to be a six-story 212 apartment complex with around 5,000 square feet on the first floor dedicated to an as-yet-unnamed restaurant or business (link).
There has been intense discussion among the members of the governing body with some in favor of the development and others concerned about some of the details. Council even went as far as to consider recommendations made by the MLUB when that board reviewed the redevelopment plan. These included removing a supermarket and auto retail as a permitted use, remove the affordable housing component which would require the developer to set aside up to 15% of their units to help the municipality satisfy its COAH (Coalition On Affordable Housing) requirements, reduce impervious coverage from 95% to 90%, and increase the minimal retail/commercial space from 1,200 sq. ft. to 1,750 sq. ft. In the end, the governing body only agreed with one recommendation, that of reducing the impervious coverage – which is the amount of blacktop or coverage that does not have landscaping. Currently, the property is 100% impervious.
The council appears to be divided on the redevelopment plan and have had numerous workshop and impromptu discussions giving the pros and cons of the development. Representatives for the developer have lobbied through social media, reached out to members of council, had organizations they have donated to speak in support of the development, and spoken during the public comment portion of municipal meetings. Those in opposition of the plan and/or project hold the position that it is not the best plan for the borough but have not proposed any substantive alternative to an empty lot right in the middle of Roselle Park. Those in favor state that the property has sat vacant for too long and that something needs to go there.
If or when the redevelopment plan is approved, there will still be the official naming of a developer and the Redevelopment Agreement which provides the specifics laid out in the Redevelopment Plan.
The public hearing and vote on Ordinance 2544 are set for Thursday night’s September 6th Mayor & Council meeting which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of the Roselle Park Municipal Complex located at 110 East Westfield Avenue.
A copy of RP Ordinance 2544 and the final redevelopment plan are available below for review and/or download:
Download a copy of the Redevelopment Plan for 10 West Westfield Avenue (July 23, 2018)