Monday, May 8, 2017

Do Plainfield Avenue Sites Need Redevelopment?

click to enlarge
A large lot formerly used by Shiloh Baptist Church for parking, along with other properties on the next block south, will be studied for redevelopment, if the City Council adopts a resolution Monday directing the Planning Board to do so.

The large single lot has frontages on Plainfield Avenue, South Second Street and West Third Street. It is directly across Plainfield Avenue from Hannah Atkins Playground. The other area to be investigated fronts on Plainfield Avenue, with three lots facing West Third and three others opening onto West Fourth. In all, 10 lots comprise the proposed investigation area.
Correction: Properties on the south west corner of Plainfield Avenue and West Fourth are also included.  

From the agenda packet:
Background information on the resolution

Block 111, lot 18.01 has existed as a partially completed parking lot for Shiloh Baptist Church since 2005 as part of a Zoning Board of Adjustment use variance decision requiring the church to purchase other surrounding lots for additional parking. Now that the church has purchased and received approval for parking lot improvements on those lots, the city is encouraging the redevelopment of this property, as well as adjacent properties to the south along Plainfield Avenue for redevelopment. This resolution directs the Planning Board to undertake the research necessary to make a determination, to conduct a public hearing, and to forward their recommendation to Council.

All costs associated with this redevelopment- both the study and the plan process- will be charged to the designated redeveloper upon City Council designation. 

 As followers of redevelopment know, the process involves both the governing body and the Planning Board through all steps. It is a long and thorough process, moving from an investigation to a possible declaration that a site is in need of redevelopment, and then to a redevelopment plan. The public has opportunities to speak at each juncture.

The best way for interested parties to follow the action is to have representatives, maybe from a block or neighborhood association, monitor the steps and report back to the group. Often I am the only member of the public at some of these land use meetings, but they are open to all.

In 2008, redevelopment projects overflowed my big red folder, but not all came to fruition. Since then, Plainfield's Transit Village designation and rezoning for transit-oriented development has helped to attract new developers, and there is talk of revisiting the roster of past proposals.

Plainfield is changing, and residents need to gather information and weigh in on redevelopment as it occurs.

Tonight's regular City Council meeting is 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. See the full agenda here.
(As Dan has mentioned, the 2017 Budget is also on this agenda for passage.)


  1. More room for apartments.

  2. Apartments are the LAST thing that area needs.

  3. First of all there was nothing in this post that mentioned apartments. Secondly - why wouldn't we put mixed use (retail and apartments or condos) in that area? It is a dense urban area. What else are you going to put there? A tannery, or a boeing assembly plant? Maybe a department store (if we could only change the way people shop now). Look at Westfield, Cranford, Garwood, Fanwood etc etc etc and what you will see is apartments and retail - it is what the area is really made for - village living with an emphasis on walking and use of public transit. When will people get this through their heads? And before one of these fools replies - APARTMENT OWNERS PAY TAXES!!!!!

    Stop living in yesterday and get with the times - the rest of the RVL cities were kicking our collective asses until Mayor Mapp took office. Plainfield will NEVER go back to 1945 - nor will any other town.

  4. It is similar to asking if a teenager can ever clean up their room too often. Sure all things may be improved ... BUT what is the priority for the time and funds? The fountain in Library Park has still not become operational and there are street signs and painting or crosswalks all over town that need urgent attention.

    1. First of all I am not following the teenager cleaning up their room metaphor. Secondly what priority of funds? The costs associated with a redevelopment study are paid, ultimately, by whatever developer is contracted for the project. Secondly - the city doesn't pay for the building of anything - developers pay those costs. So making the statement that a fountain isn't being repaired because the city is spending money on something else is without merit. Also - my understanding is the fountain in Library Park had become a toy for kids and as a result of that (years ago) - it was decided to not have it operational. Maybe the city can look at the again - but they aren't skipping that because of any possible development.

      Street signs are getting attention, as are crosswalks. But the city doesn't have 5,000 people driving around looking at signs - so if you see one that requires attention - report it and it will be fixed.

  5. The question is can the underground infrastructure handle all of these apartments. Only time will tell when water or sewer pipes break.

    1. Anon 8:14 - this is the kind of "sky is falling" thinking that keeps Plainfield from moving forward. The sewer lines in the city are old - considering we had one of the first advanced sewer systems in the state. However, we can't just roll-up our tents because of that. Developers are required to pay for any upgrades that are necessary for their project to be built - that often includes increasing the size of sewer lines or replacing existing - nothing new there. So to answer your concern - development is the way to get the infrastructure improved - lack of development does nothing.

    2. Not only the infrastructure, but last I checked Plainfield did not acquire any new land. Stacking people on top of one another on every piece of vacant land is not always the best use. I imagine in 5-10 years Plainfield will be just one big over crowed ghetto. I’m sure everyone wants to see Plainfield move forwarded in a positive direction but adding more apartments on top of apartments and possible a few thousand more people is not necessarily progress.Plainfield is too small to hold so many people. We can’t be so eager or desperate for projects that we continue to accept whatever the developers want.

  6. A mini mall would be nice. Unlike apartments, they would create jobs. And to 8:40 PM, yes apartment owners pay taxes, but only on the type of dwelling. So if you squeeze in additional residents...

    1. A mini mall aka a strip mall - so 1975 of you. Mixed use development achieves a better purpose - apartment/condo units and retail below. Two ways to collect additional taxes and help shift the burden away from homeowners in town. And the shops have customers right there. A strip mall by itself may not pay for itself. Remember, this is a market economy - no developer is going to build something that he/she can't make money on - nor should they be expected to.

      This is the purpose of these redevelopment plans - analyze the area, designate it for development and see what ideas come in from the market.

    2. Maybe you should look at S. Plainfield and tell them how 1975 it is to have and continue to build them (strip malls). Have you been to the area being discussed? If so, who exactly do you expect to live there?