Riverfront Redevelopment Project

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					Riverfront Redevelopment Project
       A look at the project, process & public input

This project is another opportunity to improve an important area in our downtown,
continue the trend of investment and goal of economic revitalization for the Special
Improvement District. The project will provide a variety of uses including retail,
residential and parking to capitalize on the proximity to the train station, create an
attractive and needed pedestrian link in the downtown, reinforce the existing
businesses and increase tax revenue to offset residential property taxes.

On August 14, 2007, the Township Committee voted 5-0 to sign an Interim Cost
Agreement with the S. Hekemian Group. In the coming months, the Township and
Hekemian will negotiate the terms of the Redeveloper Agreement. If successful,
Hekemian will be designated the Riverfront Redeveloper and begin the process of
designing the project, which will include public presentations.

About the site and the project:
    3.5 acres on South Avenue across from the train station and along the Rahway
       River in the downtown business district
    Development will mean clean up of contaminated Brownfield sites, creation of
       landscaped, public river walk, traditional downtown architecture and uses,
       increase of tax revenue; opportunity for destination retail and/or entertainment use
    Clean up of the any contamination will be done at developer’s expense
    Sanitary Sewer improvements ($600,000-$700,000) would be paid by the
    The mixed use project will be designed within the strict guidelines of the
       Redevelopment Plan. The Concept Plan, submitted by the developer, is based on
       the guidelines but is not a final plan.
    Key elements of the Redevelopment Plan
           o Must be a mixed use project; permitted uses are retail, residential, office,
               hotel, parking
           o Minimum height of 2 floors; maximum height 3 floors (45 feet)
           o First floor must be retail trade or retail service only, including restaurants
           o No drive thru facilities permitted
           o Parking must be screened from view
           o Developer must provide a landscaped public river walk and park area
               along the Rahway River; this will be in cooperation with the County of
               Union and within guidelines of the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection
    Residential Component
           o Hekemian proposes to build 149 luxury apartments (1 & 2 bedrooms) and
               17 town houses. The proposed building is 4 floors on South Avenue and
               facing the river; it drops to 3 floors on High Street as it approaches the
               town homes and finally the residential neighborhood.
           o Studies nationwide and in New Jersey provide data to show that
               downtown living does not attract school children; our own Cranford
               information reveals that almost 750 apartments & townhouses have
               generated only 20 school children.
       o The downtown resident is typically a young professional (20-30 years) or
           empty nester (50-60 years) previously a local homeowner. This group has
           the most disposable income to spend at local stores and restaurants.
       o Cranford Crossing has proven this to be true. 48 of the 50 units are rented
           and the average age is between 50 and 60. There is 1 school age child.
   Retail Component
       o Hekemian proposal has 11,500 SF dedicated for retail; our consultant,
           DANTH, Inc., has indicated the site could handle between 13,000 and
           15,000 SF that would be attractive to specialty retail uses including a
           gourmet grocer and restaurant. The retail should be located on South
           Avenue; best location is corner of South Avenue and High Street, directly
           across from the NJ Transit station.
       o DANTH confirmed that downtown real estate is very expensive and that
           the residential component allows a developer to provide new Class A
           retail space at a competitive price. In a project like Riverfront, the
           residential component subsidizes the retail spaces.
   Art Center
       o Developer agrees to include first floor space for Cranford Arts Center
           (3,000-3,500 SF), a project of the Jersey Central Art Studio in
           collaboration with the DMC. An art center would house working artists
           who would display and sell their work. DANTH believe this is a very
           important part of the retail space and will provide a much needed draw to
           the downtown.
   River walkway
       o Hekemian will assume the cost of building and landscaping a public
           walkway and passive park area along the Rahway River; this will be done
           in cooperation with the County of Union Parks & Recreation Dept.
   Riverfront Redevelopment Plan
       o The Plan, first adopted in 2000, included a Concept Plan meant to show
           what may be considered for the site. It was not based on a retail or
           economic analysis. The original Plan also permitted a mix of 3 and 4 story
       o The Riverfront Plan was amended in 2003. The most significant change
           was to only permit 3 story buildings. Again, no retail or economic analysis
           was done.
       o There are 52 items within the Design, Bulk and Use Standards in the
           Redevelopment Plan; Hekemian proposes 9 amendments, most notably for
           floors and height.
       o The Hekemian proposal has a mix of 3 and 4 floor buildings, ranging in
           height from 33 feet to 49 feet. The Plan allows for 45 feet.
       o The Riverfront Redevelopment Plan was based in large part on
           recommendations from the 1985 Wallace, Roberts & Todd Report about
           the downtown. It was intended to project the potential and character of
           Cranford downtown in 20 years (2005).
                Economic development and revitalization opportunities must be
                    aggressively encouraged and pursued. The streetscape and façade
                    improvements alone will not provide sufficient improvements to
                    encourage new businesses to locate in the downtown. A long term
                    commitment to development and improvement must be supported.
                      Capitalize on the activity generated by the train station and its
                      Encourage new residential and commercial development; such
                       residential uses would support retail activities and give life to the
                       downtown after normal business hours.
                      This development concept is intended to project the potential
                       character of Cranford 20 years from now (1985).

      Property tax comparison:
          o 2007 actual taxes - $100,772
          o 2009 anticipated taxes - $1,689,790
                  57% to school system ( $963,180)
                  $11,020 cost to educate a child in Cranford system

About the process:
    Hekemian Group submitted a response to the Township’s Request for Proposals
       on May 22, 2007. Since that time, the Township has been evaluating the firm’s
       experience and financial capability to start and complete this project.
    The Township and S. Hekemian Group formally signed an Interim Cost
       Agreement on August 14, 2007. During the ICA period, the Township selected
       and retained experts to evaluate the retail viability, financial capability, legal and
       planning issues. These costs were paid from the developer’s escrow account. No
       public funds were used.
    Upon designation as the redeveloper, Hekemian will continue the environmental
       investigation, addressing engineering issues, including storm water management
       & sanitary sewer capacities, meetings with the property owners
    The Redevelopment Agreement will include a firm project completion date and
    This information is critical to project’s final engineering and design.
    Deviations from the Redevelopment Plan would require Township approval and
       in most cases, an amendment to the Plan.
   About public input:
    The S. Hekemian Group and Township officials met with residents in the
       immediate neighborhood of the site on Saturday, November 17, 2007.
    Proposed plans have been posted on the DMC website and in Town Hall.
    Regular updates will continue at Township meetings, on DMC website, DMC
       email newsletter and provided to the media.
    A “Question & Answer” type brochure is being prepared by the DMC. This will
       contain more information about the project, developer selection, timeframes, etc.
       It will also be regularly updated and posted on this website.

Prepared by the Downtown Management Corporation
August 16, 2007
Updated November 27, 2007