ELIZABETH, NJ - City Council approved in late April a redevelopment plan to create housing and retail spaces on the site of the former Elizabeth General Medical Center along East Jersey Street.

The five-acre lot has been vacant since 2012, after Elizabeth General Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital merged to form Trinitas Hospital in 2000. Today, broken windows and graffiti can be seen on the site's unoccupied buildings. 

“Meeting housing needs requires innovative approaches, access to resources and the ability to develop existing land,” Mayor Christian Bollwage said in a statement. “Through the transformation of this underutilized site, this project is creating 267 market-rate units, which in addition to revitalizing a neighborhood, are increasing options as well as opportunities for individuals looking to re-locate or live within our great city.”

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The housing is planned to be above retail spaces. The property also includes a 500-space parking deck along Lafayette Street, which will be renovated, the plan said. The deck will be in an eight-story steel and glass enclosure, a city spokeswoman said.

Sixth Ward Councilman Frank Mazza, whose district encompasses the former hospital, called the current site an “eyesore.” He said the new plan is “beautiful” and will help keep residents in the city.

“It’s what we aim to do for the future of Elizabeth,” Mazza said in a phone interview, referring to the project. “You want to keep the people in town. You don’t want it to be a ghost town."

County records show that H. Elizabeth Realty, LLC., based out of Brooklyn, sold the property to CMT Developers, LLC. for $7 million in January 2016. CMT Developers is based out of Lakewood, NJ.

The residential project may be subject to a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement between the city and CMT Developers, which would exempt it from property taxes for a period of time. An annual service charge is usually paid to the city instead of a tax to encourage development projects that are beneficial to the community.

CMT Developers applied for a tax abatement, but have not yet been approved, Elizabeth spokeswoman Kelly Martins said.

The plan, prepared by Harbor Consultants, Inc., also includes courtyards, outdoor seating, recreation space, streetscape improvements and a community garden.

The plan does not recommend that the project obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, but the use of an environmentally responsible design is “encouraged.”

The demolition and reconstruction of the site are encouraged to incorporate “green” development standards, including the use of “green” roofs. A transit, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly development are also preferred.

Asbestos abatement and the continuing demolition of the structures on the site is also part of the plan.

In 2012, a section of the hospital was demolished. Filomena, who didn’t want her last name used and was walking nearby the site, was concerned with how the front of the building will be demolished. She's been an Elizabeth resident for 40 years. 

“There's good points and bad points depending on the renters,” she added, referring to her concern about who will upkeep the property. “There's good renters and then there's bad renters.”

Information about the residence and retail spaces will be presented to the Planning Board on July 20 at City Hall, Martins said.

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