PLAINFIELD, NJ - A large swath of Plainfield Avenue is targeted for redevelopment in a plan expected to receive final approval on Sept. 11.
The site, bordered by a cemetery to the south and the Raritan Valley Line to the north, is across from the Housing Authority of Plainfield complex renamed Joanne Hollis Gardens in memory of the late community activist and former City Council member. In contrast to the garden apartments, the redevelopment plan allows for new mixed-use construction up to five stories, though just three stories street-side to blend in with the neighborhood.
Currently a mix of shuttered buildings, a few well-kept homes, a small grocery, an auto-body shop and a large parking lot, the site would be redeveloped with apartments over commercial and retail uses that would serve the neighborhood.
Walking down Plainfield Avenue Thursday, Dalea Abreu said she felt it would be a change for the better. “It’s good,” said Abreu, a 19-year resident of the West End neighborhood.
The news did not sit so well with Juan Cepeda, who is renovating the West Fourth Street Superette. He hopes to add a restaurant to the store, which currently features groceries and household goods as well as take-out sandwiches.
Through an interpreter, he said he had a 15-year lease and that his business supports his family, including five children.
Cepeda was interested to learn that redevelopment programs allow for assistance in relocating a business.
The redevelopment plan prepared by the Nishuane Group LLC of Montclair said its goal is “to create a mixed-use neighborhood where retail uses cater directly to the daily needs of neighborhood residents.”
The site had been declared “in need of redevelopment” after a study of each property. If approved, the plan setting forth possible uses and building regulations will be followed by identification of a developer and finally a redevelopment agreement.
City residents have been seeing the progress of redevelopment steps most recently with a groundbreaking on South Avenue after years of interaction between the Planning Board and City Council.
The public will have a chance to speak about the plan at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library. The ordinance is MC 2017-24 and may be reviewed in the City Clerk’s office before the meeting or before the final vote at the regular meeting, 8 p.m. Sept. 11 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.
The redevelopment plan is on file in the Planning Division on the second floor of City Hall, and may also be reviewed during office hours.
The West End recently saw construction of a new ABC Supply warehouse on South Second Street that kept the business in Plainfield, saving jobs and creating a few more. Besides the $50 million project for 212 luxury apartments on South Avenue, the city currently has many more in the works, including a 90-unit residential complex at South Second Street and Grant Avenue.