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Builder to Increase Development Size

The riverfront redevelopment property may gain 18 new apartments on an entirely new floor.

Another development set to rise up in downtown Cranford might be growing a little larger.

The Township Committee voted 4-1 Tuesday night introducing an ordinance that if passed would allow the developer Garden Homes to add 18 more apartment units to the Riverfront Redevelopment area, making a total of 124 proposed units. Three units would qualify as affordable housing and sold under the market rate. 

The units will make up an entirely new fourth floor on one of the five buildings that will be contructed on 3.5 acres of South Avenue by Chestnut Street across from the train station.

In turn Cranford Township will receive about $700,000 in sewer and parking "impact fees" that officials say will be used to offset township costs. 

Mayor Daniel Aschenbach added during the meeting that he supports the initiative due to Cranford's unability to settle tax appeals months earlier due to lack of funds.

“It does have density that I was not in favor of and I am having trouble getting my arms around that, except for a few months ago the Township couldn’t pay its bills,” Aschenbach added.

Commissioner Kevin Campbell also told Patch that a $1.1 million suit against the town filed by the developer is yet another reason to gather funds in reserve – in case they are needed for court.

The developer suit alleges that Cranford Township did not give adequate compensation to the developer for extra addends like the roof cupola, according to township attorney Daniel McCarthy. The suit is currently in arbitration.

"I believe it's in the best interest of Cranford to make this amendment," Campbell said as he introduced the bill in town hall.

 The Township Committee will hold a public hearing for this ordinance on June 14, when residents are invited to share their opinions.

The five Riverfront Redevelopment buildings have been in the planning stage since 2007. Along with apartment units, the five buildings will also hold commercial establishments, both retail and offices, according to Zoning Officer Robert Hudak. 

This project is the second downtown development in recent years taken under the wing of the Township Committee, which controls the construction plan. To significantly edit development plans, Garden Homes must ask the Township Committee to pass legislation.

The first such redevelopment project steered by the Township Committee was Cranford Crossing, two similar buildings featuring retail and apartment units near the train station plus an adjacent garage.

Michele April 28, 2011 at 05:20 PM
1) Why is the builder so stupid as to think he can rent these places? Look at Cranford Crossing! It's been there for about 5 or 6 years and they STILL can't rent all the units. It's pretty empty. 2) The retail business in Cranford is poor so we don't need more of it. And please don't say adding parking and good retail businesses will work out great. We have a nice parking garage already but much of the retail business does not work out.
Dave April 29, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Yes. Very stupid developers. The stupid developer who built Cranford Crossing is a billionaire. The developer building this new project is a near billionaire - who happens to own the Minnesota Vikings football team. Wish I was so stupid.!
Michele April 30, 2011 at 11:23 AM
All very true, but Cranford Crossing was completed before the terrible economic troubles as were many of the projects completed by Garden homes. Furthermore, I care very little about the builders and their money. At this time, they both have the money to absorb these disasters. Cranford is a small town and Cranford is what I care about. Cranford Crossing has not worked out well at all and when being proposed the townships residents were not in favor of it. They were right. Who is going to rent the retail space in the new project when the retail space in Cranford crossing has been, for the most part, a disaster?? Who is going to rent these new apartments when CC is not even half full? And believe me it's not because the apartments in Cranford Crossing are unattractive. They are very nice! And don't forget, besides these 2 overblown disasters there is the property at Birchwood avenue which will have approx 400 apartments. The town is fighting this one but in the end COAH will force it on Cranford. There is also the smaller complex further up on South Avenue which Cranford was against but finally had to approve. This is another project forced on Cranford by the courts. Although I feel that most of the apartments (with the exception of the affordable housing units) will remain empty how many people do you propose Cranford absorb? Do you have children? How many children do you think that the schools in Cranford can absorb? The schools are at capacity now!

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