The Rutherford Planning Board will hold a public hearing on April 21 to determine if an underutilized section on Agnew Place in Rutherford, New Jersey, is in need of redevelopment, and the news gives us here at Capodagli Property Company renewed hope that our vision of transforming the area can still be realized!
We saw the downtown section’s potential as an easily accessible and attractive transit area all the way back in February 2014 and proposed a plan to build a vibrant transit village there.
The proposal was rejected by the Zoning Board of Adjustment, mainly over density concerns, although one trustee, Chairman Richard Rovito, was against the dismissal, rightfully saying he saw no other alternatives for the site.
The area’s redevelopment is now being reconsidered as a result of the findings of a recent study conducted by Neglia Engineering Associates, an engineering and surveying firm. The study shows that the nearly two-block section next to the railroad tracks centered on Agnew Place does indeed meet the criteria for a redevelopment designation.
In New Jersey, to designate an “area in need of redevelopment,” a municipality must authorize the planning board to conduct a preliminary investigation using certain criteria defined by state law, including buildings that are substandard, unsafe, dilapidated or are so lacking in light, air, or space as to be conducive to unwholesome living or working conditions. An underutilization of spaces which could potentially be useful and valuable to contributing to public health, safety, and welfare is also necessary for a redevelopment determination.
In their recent report, Neglia Engineering determined that a significant portion of the 2.37-acre study area is underutilized and that some of the facilities are now vacant. They assessed that these properties are no longer marketable for renovation and reuse for new business opportunities, and that a few of the lots in what’s currently the Planned Mixed Use (PMU) Overlay Zone are of non-conforming sizes.
The firm recommended that the section, which contains 37 property lots and encompasses the triangular block from West Erie to Union avenues, half a block west of Agnew Place, and half a block south of Union Avenue toward Chestnut Street, should be declared “in need of redevelopment.”
The area currently consists of a closed gas station, a vacant DPW site, a two-family home, and a dilapidated apartment development as well as auto-repair shops, parking lots, a pool store, and other commercial buildings. It is presently designated as a B-3, three-story, office-retail zone.
If, at the conclusion of the public hearing on April 21, the planning board agrees with Neglia Engineering’s assessment and makes the redevelopment determination, then its recommendation will be forwarded to the borough mayor and council for action. So, there is a chance for our vision of an attractive and thriving multi-use community in Rutherford to come to fruition after all!
When Capodagli Property Company first came upon the site, we envisioned a vibrant village consisting of tree-lined sidewalks, a dog run, etc. The goal was always to not only attract new residents but new shops and restaurants and to help existing businesses in the area as well, and what made the initial rejection so troubling was the fact that the current property owners had already expressed difficulties in finding buyers due to contamination issues.
The DPW moved off the property in 2004 and left behind underground oil tanks which contaminated parts of the area. A cleanup is mandated by the state. The situation made it difficult for the property owners, Boca Holding Company, to finding willing buyers, yet Capodagli Property Company was willing to take on the complicated environmental situation to bring our vision to life. Our purchase of the property was contingent on variance approval.
Now, with the redevelopment designation back on the table, we’re once again hopeful that the vibrant, multi-use downtown community we envisioned will one day be a reality.
About Us: Capodagli Property Company is a full-service real estate development, construction, and property management firm specializing in transformational multifamily and mixed-use real estate projects.