ROSELLE PARK, NJ — A proposed mixed-use development for a long-abandoned car dealership on Westfield Avenue would receive a 20-year tax abatement under a proposal introduced by the Borough Council at its May 16 meeting.
The council voted 5-1 to introduce the payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, for the development to be located on the 3.85-acre property at 10 West Westfield Ave. that formerly housed the Sullivan Chevrolet dealership before it closed in 2008.
The developer, Meridia at Park Square, is looking to erect two apartment buildings that will include 325 residential units above 16,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The apartments will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units and will include 16, one-bedroom affordable units when the second building is constructed.
The plans also call for a minimum of 500 spaces for on-site parking, with 10 dedicated for nonresidential free parking.
At the meeting, the borough also designated Meridia as the developer and authorized the execution of the redevelopment agreement with a 5-1 vote. Councilman Joseph DeIorio was the sole council member to vote against both ordinances.
“My sentiments are mixed toward the redevelopment, and I cannot support this ordinance at this time,” he said, adding that the PILOT was discussed at length during the closed executive session before the public portion of the meeting.
In September, Meridia plans to demolish the one-story building currently situated on the property that served as a showroom, offices and garages, and construction is slated to begin in April 2020, with the project is expected to be completed by July 2023.
The development is set to take place in two stages, one for the completion of each building, and Councilman Robert Mathieu asked redevelopment attorney Fran McManimon if Meridia would consider building the western structure first, which will be closest to Cranford near the intersection with Filbert Street.
“I would prefer, if possible, the western building to be built first rather than the eastern building. Roselle Park needs to move forward and we need to get this done,” Mathieu said, adding that if the “market doesn’t call for the eastern building to be filled” then he would like the western part of the property, near the intersection with Chestnut Street, to be left for open space. “Roselle Park really does need to move forward and we need to get this done,” he said.
McManimon responded that it could be discussed with Meridia after the site plan is put together.
“I think we did a good job with outreach. I also encourage everyone to reach out to us. I think, speaking personally, that there’s a large part of the population that’s excited about getting something done and I think people are excited for the overall look and feel of the project,” Mayor Joseph Signorello said at the meeting.
The borough had designated the property as an “area in need of redevelopment” in October 2017, and a redevelopment plan for the property was adopted in September 2018.
Signorello said that the borough has a number of projects that will be completed in the future, including the “original” Meridia project, another mixed-use development on Westfield Avenue. That site, located between 220 and 250 W. Westfield Ave., is a two-building, six-story project that will include 212 one- and two-bedroom apartments, a street-level restaurant space and a parking garage.
The site was formerly the home Domani’s, a restaurant gutted by a fire in 2009.