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.