PLAINFIELD, NJ - A 14-year Plainfield quandary over use of city space in the former Tepper’s building may soon be resolved with its sale.

According to an ordinance up for first reading Tuesday, a request for condo fees led to a deal for sale of the 17,000-square-foot space for $225,000 to resolve all claims.  It states, “The City of Plainfield has owned the property since December 16, 2004 but the space has never been fully developed, occupied or otherwise utilized for a public purpose since the time the City took title.”

The former department store was converted to three condos: 75 apartments, commercial space and the city-owned basement. Although “common area maintenance” fees were accruing, developer Larry Regan early on did not press the city for payment. Bogart Commerce Urban Renewal LLC on behalf of the condo association recently sought $97,000 in CAM fees, leading to the city’s bid to sell the space to Bogart for $225,000 in settlement of all claims, “including all alleged past due CAM charges.”

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Over the years, possible uses for the city-owned space included a senior center, City Council chambers, or a police communications center. As a federal grant for nearly half a million dollars was about to expire in 2007, the city under Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs awarded a $459,000 contract to Solid Rock Construction to fit out the site. The company spent $399,842.07 of the $459,000 bid award within a month.

Tasks completed included painting at $10,439.70, electrical work at $58,650, plumbing at $74,800, carpentry at $59,800 and floor masonry preparation at $23,000.

Seniors rejected the plan to put a center in the basement space, but terms of the grant did not permit the money to be used elsewhere. The result of the construction, as described by then-city administrator Marc Dashield was “pretty much a vanilla box.”

Water damage and lack of a separate, secure entrance were later mentioned as reasons why no use could be found for the space. The proposed sale will end the city’s role as a condo owner there, although the city’s Senior Center at 400 East Front Street was also built as a condo, along with the 63 Monarch residential units on three upper floors. 

The ordinance for sale of the Tepper’s space, MC 2018-26, will be up for final passage in November if passed on first reading Tuesday. The City Council meeting begins at 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. See link below for more details on the city-owned Tepper’s basement site.