SPRINGFIELD, NJ — As the Summer turns to Fall, several key development projects, including a pair in the Morris Avenue corridor continue to move forward in town.
The three projects are the Gomes (or Lyons) project, the Larkin (or Church Mall) project, and the abandoned Saks property.
Michael Scalera, the co-chair of the Springfield Business Improvement District (BID) explained the ins and outs of the most recent construction updates for each project.
On the Larkin project, site owner Charlie Larkin continues to make good progress. Floor joists are being installed and framing will follow in the next four weeks.
“So the Church Mall property there is going according to plan," Scalera said. "Charlie Larkin, who is the owner of the project, he’s right in line. He said a year and a half of completion of the project, maybe less, so there’s been no obstacles whatsoever on Charlie Larkin which has been great. His goal is to be the first redevelopment project in Springfield, so he’s very proud of that.”
At the Gomes project, the site owner had received his footing and foundation permits, according to Scalera. The two other houses on the site will be demolished in the next week or two. The site has been cleaned up and the foundation is being excavated. There are 1800 truckloads of soil that needs to be removed. The site owner is aiming for 80 truckloads a day to be removed from the site.
“In regards to Gomes, as you see, they finally got all the approvals and they’ve been clearing out the area consistently on a weekly basis," Scalera said. "Before it was a couple months with a lot of stalemate, nothing going on, but now I see the owners of the property […] They’ve been out there every single week, if not a couple times a week, just seeing daily what’s going on.”
During the interview, Scalera said the Gomes project is “very much in go” which was the hard part over the past ten years. He said it was amazing to him to see it is now moving.
Over all, the Larkin project should be done within the next year and a half, while the Gomes project will take 2-3 more years to fully complete.
Additionally, the Saks property. is scheduled to go before the BOA in Millburn on Sept. 21, at which point, the vote should take place.
When asked about how it feels as BID co-chair to see these buildings taking shape, Scalera noted that it was a joy to him to see projects moving forward.
“It’s very uplifting […] We’ve been doing this for 10 years, and 10 ago it was just an idea," he said. "But to actually see all the three projects within the same year. 2020 hasn’t been a good year for everybody, but 2020 for redevelopment in Springfield is very uplifting to see. Now you’re actually seeing it.”
As for the type of stores that the town and the BID envision filling the storefronts that are soon to be available in both the Gomes and Larkin projects, Scalera pointed to destination locations like restaurants, that people love to flock to. He said that the need is a downtown where people can eat and where they can buy retail.
Franchises also key, according to Scalera, because they can usually sustain ups and downs in the industry.
And when it comes to further downtown development after the completion of the current projects, Scalera said that there are plenty of other redevelopment opportunities just waiting to begin.
“It’s only the beginning. Now that it’s actually happening in the next five years, I would say that we’ve been in contact with other redevelopers," Scalera said. "They see what’s happening in Springfield, and they want a part of it. So once the Gomes building or one of the two buildings get up, then redevelopers will start to reach out to some of these older buildings.”