BY KRISTIE CATTAFI
STAFF WRITER | COMMUNITY NEWS (GARFIELD EDITION)
Plans are in motion to make portions of Passaic Street designated as an area of redevelopment, which will give the city jurisdiction to condemn properties if needed.
Last year, the city approved a 19-block area to be designated as an area in need of rehabilitation. The first ward is located in the southwest portion of the city. The study area consists of a 19-block area along Passaic Street, and extending east and west of Midland Avenue. The study area has a combined land area of 18.8 acres. Its general roadway boundaries are Somerset Street, Hepworth Place and Harrison Avenue to the north, Lincoln Place to the east, Passaic Street to the south and River Drive to the west.
Of those 19 blocks, seven have been planned to be a redevelopment area. City Manager Tom Duch said changing the designation from rehabilitation to redevelopment gives the city the ability to condemn properties if needed.
Duch explained that if a developer wants to build throughout a couple of blocks, there could be a property owner that wants to hold out and not cooperate.
“When we did River Drive there were three property owners that didn’t want to sell,” Duch said. “We had to use our abilities to condemn them to complete the new river walk. It’s similar and we are asking for the same power here.”
With the council’s endorsement, the plan will go back to the redevelopment agency in September. Once the redevelopment agency agrees, the plan will then go to the planning board. After the planning board agrees on the plan, they will pass a resolution, and then the city can engage in discussion with a planner for the proposed redevelopment plan for the area, Duch explained.
“This is a lengthy process,” Duch said. “All three governing entities must review and approve every phase of the project.”
During the Aug. 11 council meeting, Duch said the focal point of the redevelopment will be the train station with the hopes of a new pedestrian walkway. Duch said it’s a commuter friendly area. He said the new development in Bloomfield near the train station is parallel to Garfield because it’s the same time to New York City from Passaic Street.
Duch said while the entire area is in need of rehabilitation, the city can realistically work on phases of development at a time.
“We are doing the development with the greatest positive impact to the train station,” he said. “We want to take advantage of the train station. There aren’t a lot of municipalities that have two train stations and we want to take advantage of that asset and give the whole area a shot in the arm. Hopefully, this redevelopment will send a message that we are interested and want to be a transit village and welcome all commuters to live in our city and work in New York.”