Thursday, October 2, 2008

South Wood Avenue ~ The White Elephant?

If things couldn’t get any worse for the "Transit Village", they just did in recent weeks with the Wall Street and banking meltdown. The days of obtaining easy mortgages are over. It won’t be easy for developers to tap those sources any longer either.

Other indicators which don’t support a market for a retail/residential mixed use of the area include:

A soft real estate market. Look around the city and see the many homes up for sale and the lack of buyers.

Newer commercial buildings in town which are unable to attract tenants.

Empty stores on Wood Avenue which are unable attract retail businesses.

Rahway may have been in the forefront in its re-development plans of its downtown, but it’s my opinion that those efforts are now facing a downturn due to the current market conditions. Despite the initial outlook, many of the condominium projects are not sold out. One condominium project recently changed its plans from condos to rentals. Another project was significantly scaled back. Rahway has also failed to attract the much anticipated retail establishments for its downtown.

The redevelopment of South Wood Avenue got underway some 8 years ago and evolved into a "transit village" concept which relied on the locale of the train station to attract would-be NY commuters. The fallout from the Wall Street crisis may mean a great loss of jobs in New York, and elsewhere as well.

Perhaps it’s time to scale back our own re-development plans. Possibly Linden should focus on marketing one phase at a time, starting with the block that has already been demolished. It seems this project may be too big for Linden, the UCIA or any one developer in view today’s troubling economic times.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking "outside the transit village box" and perhaps find a way to cut the taxpayers’ losses now and get those UCIA issued bonds off the backs of the Linden taxpayers.

Verge/Valvano apparently figured this all out. When will we?

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