The needler in the haystack.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Elmwod Gardens rehab: Fact or fiction?

Workers unboarding windows at Elmwood Gardens yesterday.

This view on West 2nd Street shows work already done.
Plainfield developer (and resident) Mario Camino of The Arkad Group posted a photo of an Elmwood Gardens building yesterday to his Facebook page (see his post and the conversation thread on it here).

What caught my attention was Mr. Camino's comments on what is going on at Elmwood Gardens. The project, once Plainfield's highest crime and drug 'hotspot' has been designated for demolition and replacement with town homes.

Camino's original comment was --

Booooom! City cleaned these suckers up. New buyer came in and is getting busy. This was one of the worst pjs in town. It's getting reconfigured, improved and revived.
Followed by this --
These will remain low income. But managed but basically the 2nd biggest landlord in the US for these types of properties. It's subsidized and got a pilot. If managed properly, which is where PHA comes in, it should fly very well for the next 50 yrs. financials are solid. They paid a premium for this too. So im sure they feel vested.
And then this to a commenter --
you're right to a certain extend. The idea is to help people that need help on their housing while maintaining a civil and crime free community. Speaking from a landlords stand point. People are always gonna need aid and the gov will always give it. What we need to do better is eliminate problems by reacting quickly. Not letting these properties rot and become drug dens. Both policing and land lording have to work well together for tear type of projects to work.
One correction to not to Mr. Camino's statements: It is the HAP, not the city, which owns and manages the project, and it was HAP's proposal (as part of the Hope IV program) to relocate the existing tenants.

Readers may recall that the Housing Authority of Plainfield came before the Planning Board and proposed that a redevelopment plan be drawn up for the area, conditioned on the demolition of the existing Elmwood Gardens complex and the construction of new town homes, with much-reduced density on the site.

It was late afternoon before I could get over to Elmwood Gardens, but I did indeed see crews removing the boards from the windows.

Checking with some of the HAP commissioners, I was told they were unaware of any plans to sell the property or to rehab it.

As it happened, the Planning Board was meeting Thursday evening and I shared what I had learned with them. The board appeared stunned at the news, and chairperson Ron Scott Bey remarked that the plan did not allow for the HAP to rehab the buildings, only for demolition an d reconstruction. In order to be able to rehab them, the HAP would have to come before the Planning Board with any proposal to change terms of the redevelopment plan.

Randall Wood, the HAP's executive director, is probably receiving phone calls this morning to find out exactly what is going on.

I am reaching out to Mr. Camino, also.

So, is this reported Elmwood Gardens rehab fact or fiction?

Stay tuned.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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