Springfield Planning Board addresses three redevelopment projects

Michael Disko, top row, second photo from right, details redevelopment projects happening within Springfield Township during the Springfield Planning Board meeting on Monday, June 7.

SPRINGFIELD, NJ — At the Planning Board meeting on Monday, June 7, Michael Disko, Springfield’s director of Engineering, updated the members regarding the three redevelopment projects in the pipeline, first addressing the Saks property. The Saks Fifth Avenue department store closed approximately 25 years ago and the store relocated to the Mall at Short Hills, leaving the property vacant.

“The Saks property at 92 Millburn Ave. is underway with site work,” said Disko on Monday, June 7. “The foundations have been prepared for the town homes, the nearest ones near Millburn Avenue. Sanitary sewer reconstruction has begun throughout the site this week. Everything has been cleared from the site, and you’ll start seeing the beginnings of buildings going up very soon.

“Other than those elements, a substantial amount of demolition has been done and recycled everything on the property,” he continued. “It’s a 10-acre site, and the whole site was covered either by buildings or pavement, so that’s moving ahead.”

He next discussed the Larkin project, also known as Church Mall, a multiuse redevelopment project at the corner of Morris Avenue, Church Mall and Walnut Court.

“Theoretically, in four to six weeks, you should have someone looking to rent those units,” Disko said. “Kitchens and bathrooms are in, finishing work is being done on the interior, the exterior site work remains, meaning curbs and sidewalks — there was a delay with (the Department of Transportation). But that’s really the last remaining major element to the work. In four to six weeks, they should be ready to start renting.”

Disko then talked about the Gomes or Lyons project, which encompasses the entire block, from Caldwell Place to Center Street.

“The most substantial one, in terms of the time length, is creeping ahead,” Disko said. “Steel has been erected along the Caldwell side and the crane was on-site today. Stairways and elevator shafts have been constructed on the base floor up to the first floor, and concrete floors for the underground parking deck are in progress.

“Little by little, it’s coming out of the ground,” he continued. “Hopefully, in about six to eight more weeks. The goal is to be doing interior work over the next winter, where they’re shielded from the elements.”

Disko’s engineering report drew responses from David Barnett, the former mayor of Springfield, as well as the chairperson and chief operating officer of Corsis, a platform for making technology decisions, regarding the redevelopment in the township.

“There’s been conversation about designating the Morris Avenue corridor as an area of rehabilitation,” Barnett said on Monday, June 7. “That would include the general green properties, all the way down to the bridge or so. That would give the town, as well as this board, a little more flexibility. It would give the town some ability to create some tax incentives for the owners along the property to fix up their buildings, fix up their facades and not incur things like a tax increase because of that.

“I think it’s a very positive idea and will give us another tool in our tool belts to get that area cleaned up,” he added.

Springfield Mayor Chris Weber said he was pleased at the progress of the redevelopment.

“I think, at this point, we don’t want to leave anything off the table,” Weber said on Monday, June 7. “We’ve got a good momentum going everywhere, and whatever we could figure out that will help get this whole entire area redone, we’re with it.”