FLEMINGTON, NJ – Plans to modify the interior of a building that is critical to Jack Cust’s plan to redevelop the Union Hotel and its surrounding properties have run into a speedbump.
Commonly referred to as the “Hunterdon County Bank building” at 90 Main St., it was built in 1870. Cust’s plans for the project call for preserving the outside of the building, and then essentially constructing an entirely new building inside of it.
The building fell under the purview of the state Historic Sites Council, an advisory group to the state Historic Preservation Office that is part of the Department of Environmental Protection. The Council held a hearing on the plan on Aug. 16 and as TAPinto Flemington-Raritan previously reported, it issued a “temporary denial” of the plan.
But as the council’s Chairperson Sophia Jones explained, its determinations are strictly advisory. The final decision rests with the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Now, a Sept. 5 letter from the state assistant commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources confirms that he’s accepted the recommendation of a temporary denial as issued by the council.
In the letter to Flemington Mayor Phil Greiner, Rich Boornazian seeks a structural analysis and options for use of the building, an initial archeological assessment and “an evaluation of the appropriateness of scale of the proposed new development of 90-96 Main Street in the context of the surrounding Flemington Historic District.”
Greiner, who is an advocate for the redevelopment plan, said the letter "clarifies the additional information we should provide to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and starts the 60-day window" to provide it.
"We intend to provide the information," the mayor said. "In the meantime, we are proceeding in parallel with this to keep the local approval process moving forward as specified in the redeveloper agreement."
Boornazian’s letter states he’ll reach a “final determination” on the building within 60 days of receiving the information he seeks.
"Failure to provide the requested material will automatically result in a project denial," Boornazian wrote.