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Monday, December 8, 2008

Dornoch's Senior Center: A Tale of Two Cities?

The Rahway project, seen here, looks quite similar to the Plainfield project.

Expectant Plainfield seniors and taxpayers may well wonder why Glen Fishman's Dornoch projects in Plainfield and Rahway seem to be faring so differently.

A report in last Thursday's Rahway Rising blog (see here) noted that not only had work stopped on Dornoch's Savoy at Rahway project, neither the developer nor his attorney were returning the city's phone calls though the project's website is still up and offering units beginning at $315,000 (see here).

Dornoch is now represented by Al Faiella, who many will remember as Newark's go-to development guru under Sharpe James. Mayor Cory Booker is evidently looking to get back $30M in assets Faiella transferred to an entity under his control before he moved on (see here).

The Rahway project has dragged on, and Rahway Rising has cataloged the concerns beginning last February with the wait for steel (here), which finally started going up in August (here), and then 'economic difficulties' leading to stoppage of work in October (here).

The Plainfield experience might make one think it's a 'tale of two cities'.

Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs broke ground for the project in July, 2007, promising that the building would be ready for occupancy by September, 2008. For months, hardly any work was performed.

When it finally did get under way, it hardly seemed to go ahead full pace, sometimes with only two or three pickups or vans parked on the construction site.

While work has been slow over the past many months, there has been a noticeable pickup since October.

The Monarch's exterior work is under way.

The roofline was finished and clad. Presently the exterior is covered with scaffolding over which is hung a black scrim as tarpaper is applied to the building's outside, presumably as the step before insulation and then the exterior finish.

The sales trailer has been set in place.

And the long-awaited sales trailer was installed last Wednesday across the street from the construction, on the corner of East Front and Westervelt. Work was being done on steps up to the trailer as of the end of the week.

And a realtor's 'For Sale' sign went up in front of the construction site.

Surprisingly, though, it is not a sign of the Century 21/Atlantic Realtors crew that would be expected from the original billboard put up by UCIA Executive Director Charlotte DeFilippo and still on the premises.

The original billboard touted Century 21/Atlantic Realtors as the sales agent.

Now, it's Coldwell Banker.

No, it's now a Coldwell Banker office in tony (and hardly Democratic) Mendham.

How did that happen?

This project has more twists and turns than Dorothy's Yellow Brick Road (I know, metaphor clash!).

Could the changes be because of the long-rumored-to-be-forthcoming indictment of DeFilippo?

Patience. Things will become clearer, I hope.

Meanwhile, I now am chasing down the rumor that Fishman/Dornoch has an escape clause in the developer's agreement for 'The Monarch' which allows for the Senior Center not to be finished out until ALL the condo units have sold.

How long that would take in this market is anyone's guess, but it could be quite a while.

Or will they be offered as rentals?

In which case, what happens to finishing off the Senior Center?

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

Aren't there any qualified realtors in Plainfield who can represent the condoe/rentals?

At least the money would stay in the city.

I guess Jerry Green doesn't have much faith in this city after all.

Dan said...

Dear 8:55 AM --

In the best of all possible worlds, Plainfield realtors would have had a crack at this.

But this is Plainfield, in Union County, so the decision is made in some mysterious way that you can't fathom to benefit people whom you don't know.

Sort of a plantation politics.

Could things change? Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to politics in Plainfield under Jerry Green, with all their talk about all the talent in Plainfield Jerry Green and Sharon Robinson-Briggs. Sure have brought us the finest crooks from outside of Plainfield to plunder our city.
Just wait they will find away to blame this too on the past administration.

Anonymous said...

Is the mayor trying to get this project finished so that she can have an "accomplishment" to run on for her re-election campaign? Why on earth would the city use a Coldwell Banker in Mendham of all places, when our own real estate agents are struggling to make a living? How absolutely shameful.