The City Council rebuffed developer Joseph Forgione three times, before eventually approving the PILOT agreement this month. In August, this occurred:
Despite having passed legislation related to South Avenue development for a year and now having a 28-page proposed "payment in lieu of taxes" plan in the meeting packet, a council majority Monday claimed to be left out of the loop and refused to put the tax matter on the Aug. 17 agenda.
A pitch by the developer himself failed to sway a council majority at the Aug. 17 meeting. The blog post drew 80 comments, a record for Plaintalker.
The Planning Board had already given approval for the project and the developer was preparing to acquire about a dozen properties to clear for the project.
At a special meeting on Aug. 31, the council rejected the proposal in a 3-2 vote. It looked like the end of the story, but just this month the PILOT was finally approved unanimously by all but Gloria Taylor, who was absent. Only two residents spoke in public comment, one against the PILOT and one in favor of the project.
The late passage may throw off the construction schedule. There are still many chapters to go in this story, including site acquisition and financing. A major concern of city officials and some residents is how Plainfield comes across to other developers who are contemplating projects here. Development always seems to have a lot of moving parts that have to mesh if the project is to succeed. Entrepreneurs need to hire experts to get through the land use board approvals. No matter how welcoming the administration may be, the governing body (or at least a majority of members) can make or break a deal after all the preliminaries. The window for construction may now have closed until spring.
Click to read more about the South Avenue Gateway Redevelopment Plan.
Overall, the roster of projects is growing. Senior housing is under construction on Roosevelt Avenue, Art Lofts I is rising five stories high by the main train station, new development is promised on a large tract in the West End. When you lift a glass to toast the New Year, give a thought to these and many more in 2016.