Clark takes another step to revitalize old A&P site

Photo by Liv Meier
The old A&P store on Westfield Avenue in Clark has been vacant since 2006.

CLARK, NJ — A developer is formulating plans to turn the former A&P supermarket site on Westfield Avenue into apartments and retail, and the council voted unanimously at its April 15 meeting to introduce an ordinance to adopt a redevelopment plan for the property.
The announcement comes nearly 10 months after Mayor Sal Bonaccorso told the council the property, abandoned for more than a decade, had been sold to a developer he has not yet identified. The mayor said that the developer has discussed its plans with township officials and that some apartments will be leased at below-market rates to fulfill the agreement struck with low-income housing advocates settled last year and approved by the court.

The settlement calls for the township of nearly 4.5 square miles and 15,000 people to zone for 263 affordable housing units through 2025.
“We don’t have definite plans yet,” Bonaccorso said at the meeting, adding that the developers “have a vision. They’re working with the town to get that vision done for the community.”

A public hearing on the ordinance will be held on May 6 in Room 30 of the Township Municipal Building, where members of the public will have an opportunity to ask questions and receive information about the development.

The property, vacant since 2006, has been referred to as an “eyesore” by township officials on multiple occasions.
“This is the building blocks for the old A&P to go, and for something new and nice to be put in. This is going to be the start of a downtown Clark. We’re hoping and we’re working very hard on this,” the mayor said.

John Laezza, Clark’s business administrator, said at the meeting that the ordinance is the third of five steps toward renovating the property, and Bonaccorso added that it will take some time for the developers to finalize the plans.

“This is an ordinance that will codify, if you will, actions by both the Planning Board and the council prior to this action to revitalize downtown Clark,” Laezza said.

Bonaccorso said that if the council approves the ordinance, he and Laezza will work with the developer to create a plan that will have to be presented to the council and approved for the project to move forward.

“I believe it’s going to be outstanding when it’s done, but just be patient and we’ll keep everyone on board,” Bonaccorso said.
The property was first deemed a “condemnation area in need of redevelopment” by the local Planning Board at its Aug. 2 meeting, a recommendation approved by the Township Council on Sept. 16.

Bonaccorso first announced that the property was purchased by a developer at the July 2 council meeting, saying he hoped it would be the beginning of the end of a long and frustrating chapter for the township, which has tried to negotiate with the property owner for more than 10 years.