Friday, August 12, 2016

Toliver Wants Cretella Explanation

Art Lofts I, January 2016

At Monday's City Council meeting, Councilwoman Diane Toliver called for an update on Frank Cretella's project on Gavett Place.

"It's taking far too long," she said, calling it "an embarrassment."

Toliver wants Cretella to appear before the council and tell when it will be finished.

Plaintalker has a lengthy file on the project, which Cretella dubbed Art Lofts I. Originally he proposed to build above the former Romond's Jeep building, renovating the ground floor for retail space and using the second floor plus three new floors for 20 residential units. But after receiving approvals, he demolished the building for all-new construction.

That was in 2014, about four years after approvals. Such delays are not uncommon. Steve Cheung's 80-unit building between Roosevelt and Westervelt avenues was approved about eight years before everything was in place to proceed. Cretella's firm, Landmark Developers, has multiple projects in Plainfield and major projects elsewhere, such as The Ryland Inn and Hotel du Village.

Cretella did finish another project across Gavett Place from Art Lofts I, an adaptive reuse of the former Mirons warehouse resulting in 12 apartments. A restaurant on the ground floor is still being completed. He also readapted two Park Avenue buildings nearby for residential and commercial use.

Toliver said Monday if the Art Lofts building is not finished before winter, it will be going on three years of construction. She asked which council members were on the Economic Development Committee, one of six committees established by the governing body several years ago. According to a list issued in January, the chairman is Council President Cory Storch and members are Bridget Rivers and Gloria Taylor. Storch said the committee has not met, but asked Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development Carlos Sanchez to give an update.

Sanchez said the administration concurs that the project is taking longer than expected and that Cretella has been contacted. Sanchez said the city hopes for completion before winter. Councilman Barry Goode asked whether the city was giving Cretella a time frame, but Sanchez said they are asking Cretella for his time frame.

Ten years ago, Landmark was designated to redevelop the North Avenue Historic District.  The focus changed several times since then. Plaintalker has many posts on Cretella and Landmark. One was about a proposed brew pub and distillery on West Second Street. Another was for a French bistro in the ground floor of the old Courier News building on Park Avenue, There are many more to see on Plainfield Plaintalker and Plaintalker II by keying Landmark or Cretella in the search box at upper left.

For years, Cretella dominated redevelopment in Plainfield and the inclination was to let him proceed at his own pace, but with so much new development to monitor, maybe it's time to wrap up a few things.



  1. Sometimes Developers overextend and get into financial difficulty. Or, as a consequence of overextending, don't have sufficient staff to manage all they have going on. When a project "stalls" it is justifiable cause for concern. Aside from the aesthetics it isn't healthy for the partially exposed structure, particularly these flimsy wood frames, to be exposed to weather. Someone, a Bank, or the Developer himself, has money invested. That investment isn't earning anything, conclusion: there is a problem. Another project which is taking forever is the storefront-apartment building on South Avenue and Belvedere.
    The City might consider requiring these Develpoers to post a Completion Bond and/or set a time frame for completion lest the tax abatement that usually a component of thess deals be rescinded? Bill Kruse

  2. Bill, there should be both a Completion Bond and time frame or every development project awarded. Otherwise a speculative developer can tie up a property indefinitely. Tolliver is right in her concerns.

  3. Is Cretella the only developer who has property that has not been developed? Have others taken this long or longer?

    Also, if the council members are now asking developers to be responsible for their property, I would appreciate that they also turn their attention to landlords and building owners who have let their building fall into disrepair. I am speaking specifically of a beautiful building on Park Ave. and 2nd I believed. I think the owner or part owner is Edison Garcia. It is across from the donut shop on Park, and I am told it used to be a jazz bar at one time. The building, which is architecturally beautiful, becomes more ruined by the day because of lack of owner interest. I would appreciate the council requiring the owner either have them restore it or sell it.


  5. Be happy that a developer is wiling to make the investment in your city. Many cities through out the state would bend over backwards for projects like this. Trenton, Camden, Irvington to name a few. Disaster areas....... Jersey City is LUCKY !!!!!