Business & Finance

How Does "Dollar Store" Property Figure Into a Redeveloping Fair Lawn?

ed5a3146cbd2f45eef59_Deals_RailYad.jpg
Fair Lawn Dollar Store Building, RailYard Tavern corner on Plaza Road Credits: Rebecca Greene
e53c51fe00745106ee73_12d43530af82aef16183_Deals_mei.jpg
Fair Lawn Dollar Store Building, leaks after heavy rain storm the evening before Credits: Rebecca Greene
129115e3d8abaf181386_df54c10489c460eb580a_Deals_leak.jpg
More leaks at the Dollar Store Building along Plaza Road Credits: Rebecca Greene
7c9c5419f647fab5cdbc_Deals_closed_store.jpg
Empty store in the Dollar Store Building along Plaza Road, Fair Lawn Credits: Rebecca Greene
9a0f60693dcc06fd2416_Deals_dollar_tree.jpg
Fair Lawn Avenue side of the Dollar Store Building Credits: Rebecca Greene
828392f8520cf9c382f4_Deals_RY_longview.jpg
Plaza Road view of Dollar Store Building, Fair Lawn Credits: Rebecca Greene
5d1d0a3853a1d626dfaf_Deals_Clocktower.jpg
Radburn Clocktower building from Dollar Store Building parking lot on corner of Plaza Road and Fair Lawn Avenue, Fair Lawn Credits: Rebecca Greene
c1ca7feb8aa76f50439c_Deals_Capitol_Bank.jpg
View from Dollar Store Building parking lot, Plaza Road & Fair Lawn Avenue, Fair Lawn Credits: Rebecca Greene
94a3619181608357b315_Deals_exxon_dunkin.jpg
View from Dollar Store Building parking lot, Exxon Station/Dunkin' Donuts, Fair Lawn Avenue & Plaza Road, Fair Lawn Credits: Rebecca Greene
ed5a3146cbd2f45eef59_Deals_RailYad.jpg

FAIR LAWN, NJ – Seems that just about everywhere you look in Fair Lawn, there’s construction. With so many possibilities, what keeps the heart of Radburn looking like what some have described as “ratty”?

Most people know the highly visible spot--adjacent to the Radburn Train Station, across the street from the Dunkin’ Donuts/Exxon Gas Station and the remediated Topps property, across the street from the Radburn Building and catty corner to the expansive CVS-based strip mall with Panera anchoring the corner.

But what to call the building where the RailYard Tavern resides, other than the “Dollar Store Building?” Many just say it’s “ratty”.

Sign Up for E-News

The store owners are not the issue, as Bob Piccoli, owner of the RailYard, has expressed. Piccoli put $600,000 into his spot in the L-shaped complex before opening five years ago. At that time, the landlord promised Piccoli a renovated exterior and even showed him plans, but those plans never came to fruition.

“It was awful in here,” he said, displaying before and after photos of when he began his lease compared to when he reopened the popular spot.

Restaurant patrons complain of no parking, especially during the day when commuters use the crumbling lot, owned by the landlord, as ad hoc commuter lot. The unauthorized use costs the landlord’s tenants business and costs the borough revenue.

Attempts to reach the legal representative of the building owners, Robert Inglima, were unsuccessful.

Several years ago, there was the "Vision Study" which recommended several options, according to Fair Lawn Deputy Mayor of Consumer Affairs John Cosgrove. The study, which has a link on the borough’s website but no longer connects to it, had at least one interesting recommendation: a transit village.

Transit villages have become popular in the last 20 years as a way to brighten urban-type areas where commuter trains create a natural gathering area for people. With residential and retail stores combined, along with parking garages, the use seems like a reasonable fix for busy areas that have declined due to older, unkept properties.

Just look at Waldwick and its mixed-use development by the train station at Hewson Avenue and Prospect Street. It’s an example of an area that was dormant, except for the train station. Residential units and retail stores were approved and built a few years ago for individuals who can roll out of bed and grab the train to work.

Cosgrove said after the Vision Study, the Borough Council at that time voted to refer it to a planner to look into what kind of redevelopment would be most appropriate for the site.

 

The sticking point is what can the borough do, if anything. If it’s legally possible, theoretically the town could declare it in need of redevelopment, after which they have two options. The first is to suggestion to the owner redevelopment or sale. The other option is redevelopment through condemnation.

In that case, the town could buy the property and sell it to a developer who would go through all the zoning and planning steps necessary to create a new retail building that fits into the master plan. This could, theoretically, increase tax revenues for the town.

All those ideas were kicked around more than two years ago.

Enter the Economic Development Committee (EDC), recently reformed in Fair Lawn and led by former mayor of Fair Lawn, Steve Weinstein. Currently, the EDC is reviewing uses and actively pursuing ideas about redevelopment for the property, along with several other properties in the borough.

But, as Weinstein said, the EDC can only suggest.

“We do not have the power to mandate any action,” he said. “We can recommend, but we can’t tell private property owners what to do with their properties.”

Mayor Kurt Peluso agreed.

“There’s just so much the local government can do when it comes to private property,” Peluso said.

“There are long term leases there,” he said, referring to the Dollar Store property. “There’s no way for us to intervene on that.”

Peluso said even though he knows there is business interest in the location, the current owner is not looking to sell. “We’re limited in what we can do.”

“The one thing we can do,” he said, “is check if they’re up to code. And right now, they’re up to code.”

So, what is a town to do when there is substantial blight, seemingly inspite of the improvements happening all around it.

With the three owners out-of-state, its seems they are unaffected by how their building looks and how it affects those who live and work in Fair Lawn.

But there are some who are pushing forward, especially those who have their businesses in the building, like Piccoli.

“Even getting minor fixes for the building is almost impossible,” Piccoli said. “The awning came down on someone during a rainstorm, so they were forced to repair it. But they’re willing to wait till it crumbles to do anything about it.”

The property is considered a premiere location, possibly the most valuable in the state, according to the both local politicians and would-be developers. But no matter who comes in to develop, even if they can do so, they will face a daunting task.

Applications have lost steam in the past when presenting to the Zoning and Planning Boards, worn down by a contingency of residents who are anti-development. For them, there’s a good reason not to continue building: traffic and more students in the already crowded (and expanding) school system. The public recently approved a $25 million expansion referendum for the two middle schools in the eight-school district for its population of approximately 4,800 students.

The Zoning and Planning Boards are mandated to live by the rules they are given, whether or not they like a project. The Core Mark application before the Zoning Board of Adjustment is the most recent example of how the process works.

Meeting after meeting since last fall, residents opposed to the application have come out, most against having Core Mark lease to a brand such as QuickChek, which wants to install gas pumps and a large convenience store on the corner of River Road and Bergen Avenue. Currently, there’s a closed TD Bank at the location. QuickChek, at this moment, at least, has walked away.

That has not stopped Core Mark from continuing to try to put a similar retail operation at the location. On June 28, Core Mark scheduled July 12 as a special meeting before the Zoning Board. The company has been trying to convince the board that the area is zoned for a QuickChek-type operation, while the board points to language in its master plan that says otherwise.

No matter what developer comes into town, they most likely will face resistance. Those who reside here are left to choose between progress, which could mean a larger tax base--or status quo, which to residents means less traffic and keeping the school-age population close to where it is now.

But for others still, it’s a simple choice of “ratty”…or not.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Fair Lawn/Glen Rock

Conversations with Joan Herrmann: When Men Suffer from Impotence, What Happens to their Female Partners?

Most women, when they're young, believe men are the ones regularly seeking sexual intimacy. That's why later in life, for some male/female relationships, it becomes quite a surprise when it's the woman who is more interested than the man.

Below, Joan taps into her bevvy of experts for answers.

"Intimacy involves feelings of emotional closeness and connectedness with another ...

Belmar Parasail: Soar Into Summer with a High-Flying Adventure Along the Beachfront

July 14, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — As Belmar finally basks in picture-perfect weather, it may be time to check off a summer activity on your bucket list. And for many, parasailing is one of those “must-do” experiences.

At Belmar Parasail, the season is in full swing, offering boat trips from the Belmar Manutti Marina to the beachfront where passengers are lifted 500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean ...

Morristown Happenings: Things to Do in Morristown This Weekend; July 14 - 15

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Jump for joy....it's the weekend! Don't let Friday the 13th scare you away, there are lots of fun things to do in and around town this weekend! Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday July 14

Tri harder Triathlon; Ginty Pool and Ginty Field; 8:30am

25th Annual George Gramby Softball Game; Cauldwell Playground; 9am

Urban Farm Stand is Open; 14 ...

Glen Rock Police Blotter - July 16

July 16, 2018

During the period between July 9 and July 15, 2018 members of the GRPD handled 255 calls for service, the highlights of which included:

July 9 -10:35 AM – During the course of a motor vehicle stop, P.O. Tarantino arrested a 34-year-old male out of Newark, NJ on an outstanding Passaic County warrant for unpaid child support. The male was transported to the Passaic County Jail and turned ...

Sparta Kiwanis Helps Fund Quinlan's Hero Club Endowment for Child Grief Counseling

July 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ — The Hero Club at the Joseph T. Quinlan Bereavement Center is one step closer to reality having received a donation from the Sparta Kiwanis. John Quinlan, Director of the Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice foundation, presented the program to the club at their meeting at Homers restaurant. 

Kiwanis member Frank Cannistra introduced Quinlan and Diane Sebzda, Director of ...

Rutgers Hikes Tuition, Student Fees for 2018-2019 Academic Year

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a 2.3 percent hike in tuition and fees, as well as increases for dorm rooms and meals, for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The increase now brings the annual cost for undergraduate students to $14,975, which is $337 more than this past school year.

Student housing will increase 1.9 percent, and ...

Murphy Administration Takes Action to Help Smokers Quit

July 16, 2018

Eliminates Prior Approval for Medicaid Tobacco Cessation Medications; Counseling Options to be Expanded

TRENTON, NJ – The Murphy administration on July 16 announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease ...

Glen Rock Green Team Hosts "Plastic Ocean" Movie Screening July 31

GLEN ROCK, NJ - The Glen Rock Green Team Interns will be hosting a movie screening of the documentary “Plastic Ocean”  on July 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the Borough Hall Council Chambers. Refreshments and food will be provided before the movie and a question and answer session will take place after the movie.

This life changing documentary is about the growing amounts ...

Take the 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey

How often do you read TAPinto?  Have you downloaded the TAPinto APP?  These are a few of the questions for readers in our 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey.

We want to hear from you!

The survey will take less than five minutes to complete and will help TAPinto better serve you. 

Take the 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey.

Thank you.  We appreciate your support and ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...