PLAINFIELD, NJ - With final site plan approval at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, Plainfield’s long-awaited Elmwood Gardens development can finally move toward construction.

Housing Authority of Plainfield Executive Director Randall Wood and Zeke Cullen of MidAtlantic Engineering met with the Planning Board to answer questions on the final items for approval, including decorative streetlights and various financial assurances. The project had received preliminary site approval in July 2018 for 15 3-bedroom units and 43 2-bedroom units.

Outside the meeting, Wood said he is looking forward to groundbreaking on October 17 and completion within 12 to 16 months, depending on weather and other impacts. He said the developer is Joseph Alpert, president of The Alpert Group. A “payment in lieu of taxes” or PILOT, will be sought, he said. The Premier Development Corp., the Housing Authority’s community development entity, will be the co-developer. Management is still being worked out but will be between Alpert and the Housing Authority of Plainfield, Wood said. 

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Talk of change at the troubled complex began in 2008, when the 120-unit low-income housing project was rife with crime, enabled in part by its common hallways where outsiders plied drug deals and carried out other illegal activities. The new townhouse construction plan gives each family its own front door.

ARCHIVEPlainfield Planning Board Approves Elmwood Square Project

In 2011, the site was declared “in need of redevelopment.” All former tenants eligible for relocation were settled in new homes by 2013. But then the site had to undergo asbestos remediation before demolition could take place. In September 2014, the Planning Board was surprised to learn that there was a “Plan A” and “Plan B,” one calling for low-income tenants and one for seniors 55 and older. At the time, Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott Bey said, “We need a new plan.”

Wood said Thursday the new units will be for low- to moderate-income tenants.