Monday, March 23, 2015

Demolition on North Avenue

As I was leaving the Plainfield Donut Shop Saturday morning, I noticed fire trucks everywhere.  When I saw North Avenue blocked off between Park and Gavett Place, I stopped to observe the commotion on North Ave. 

Directors Riley and Watson were on hand to oversee the demotion.  It was halted when the building next door was damaged by falling debris. The restaurant occupying that space had no people instead.  That is good because the damage was substantial. 

I hope the restaurant owners have business interruption insurance because they will be out of commission for a while.  They have suffered unfortunate consequences through no fault of their own.  The city needs to do everything possible to help them turn this problem into a business opportunity.

The building to be demolished is now completely taken down.  Other bloggers have covered this situation well.  What I have to add is a planning perspective.  These properties are 1/2 block from the train station.  Renovations have taken place across the street and in the next block.  This block has seen no development or renovation activity because of the eyesore/safety hazard that is now demolished.  I called for its demolition 2 years ago but heard no response from city hall aside from the information that the property owner was "missing" for many years.  This demolition opens up a redevelopment opportunity that our downtown needs very much. 

The building next door may have to be replaced as well, depending on what the engineers have to say.  It is an one story building in a zone allowing at least 4 stories (maybe 5, not more than 6).  This property owner also may have a redevelopment opportunity. 

The interested parties - property owners, restaurant owner, current developers with projects near the train station, the city, other local business owners - should be talking about the potential this demolition has created.  A mixed use, transit oriented project belongs on this block.  One with architectural features respecting the North Ave. Historic District.  A project that could benefit all interested parties and Plainfield overall.

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