Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Downtown West's Sears project gets under way

Work recently began on the renovation of the old Sears building.
Front Street Realty LLC has begun work on the old Plainfield Sears store at the corner of West Front Street and Central Avenue which will transform it into mixed use retail, apartments and professional offices.

Sear's retail store was located on this corner from the 1930s until it was relocated to the current Route 22 location in Watchung -- responding to the car-driven culture of the postwar era. (Is online shopping now turning these monster stores into real estate albatrosses?) The Sears store itself was built on land previously occupied by the First Baptist Church, which merged with the Park Avenue Baptist Church after a fire destroyed the Front Street building, to form First-Park Baptist Church, located at the corner of West 7th Street and Central Avenue.

The site was originally occupied by the First Baptist Church.

Parking is a complicated issue.
The plans approved by the Zoning Board this past December included a new addition on the currently vacant lot next to the building. The complex will house three retail spaces facing West Front Street, four professional office spaces facing Grove Street and a total of eight spacious apartments on the upper floors of the two buildings.

It is exciting to see this more modestly-scaled project get under way since the developer is not looking to the state for large loans or the city for tax abatements (as is the case with the Cretella projects -- which is not a knock against them, but just means they take longer to get started...and finished).

As you will see from my earlier post (here), the project does come with its rough edges -- primarily parking, in my opinion. Let's hope those are worked out positively as the process moves along.

Who knows, perhaps the city will even do something about the execrable condition of Lot 9.

A 'ghost' sign indicating 'Sears, Roebuck and Co., Retail Store'
can still be seen on the western exterior of the old Sears building.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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