Upcoming Town Hall Meeting Will Discuss New Development
Mayor McCarthy will answer questions and listen to residents' concerns about the Bloomfield Town Center.
Mayor McCarthy announced Thursday that he will hold a town meeting to listen to residents and discuss the progress of the town center development project, a subject that seems to be on everyone’s mind lately.
“Let me talk to the developers,” he said, referring to Bill Colgan and Bloomfield Center Urban Renewal LLC developing company. “I’ll make a presentation to the townspeople so we can talk about what’s going to be done. I’ll do that for the people of Bloomfield so they feel informed.”
Recently, many residents have said they are concerned about which businesses will ultimately to wind up renting space in the development. Though construction has not yet begun, now is the time when such decisions are being made.
In fact, McCarthy said the decision was made years ago to rent out the retail spaces to high-end businesses in order to attract a more affluent demographic to Bloomfield. That is still the plan, he told Patch on Thursday afternoon.
“I talk to people about this every single day. Every single day they tell me, ‘we need something good [in the city center.] Yes, we’re going to put quality stores there,” he said, adding, “Can we get a Nordstrom’s? Probably not. But we should be able to get a high-end clothing store. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Added McCarthy, “We’ve said no, a thousand times, unequivocally no to a Dollar Store.”
That should be good news to the residents who, in today’s informal Patch poll, said they wanted to see a gourmet food store in the development complex, as well as upscale clothing stores and fine restaurants. Very few responders said they wanted a standard supermarket like Foodtown in the development.
A last week’s township council meeting, the Township Parking Authority Attorney Joe Baumann, said Foodtown, a “phenomenal selection for the township,” was seriously being considered. Many residents spoke out against the choice after the meeting, saying they expected something a little more exclusive.
Back in 2008 and 2009, McCarthy said he had held five similar town meetings to discuss what the township wanted to do with the proposed development center.
“We had five programs that we ran, three in the library and two in the Town Hall,” he said. “We filled up the entire Town Hall to discuss all aspects of the development – sidewalks, buildings, stores, everything. We did such a good job at that, we won an award from a Smart Growth organization.”
The 2009 New Jersey Future Smart Growth Award was given to Bloomfield for being “one of the best examples of sustainable growth and development in the state,” according to its website.
“A series of community planning meetings and workshops subsequently brought together residents, property owners, potential redevelopers and other interested citizens in a collaborative effort to find the right mix of public and private involvement in Bloomfield’s redevelopment,” stated the website.
This was also the year the township conducted a study to gage the fiscal impact of the town’s development said McCarthy. Last week, the town council passed a motion calling for another fiscal impact study, a move the mayor disputes.
“Why waste people’s money? In 2009 we did an impact study that Nick Joanow approved,” said McCarthy referring to Councilman Nick Joanow, who introduced last week’s motion. “We paid through the nose. By the time we were done paying it wound up being about a million dollars. Nick Joanow should know this before anybody.”
Not long after winning the Smart Growth Award, Bloomfield's redevelopment project was stopped in its tracks by lawsuit from a competing developer. The lawsuit was eventually thrown out of court last month. This month, construction has begun on the parking garage, the first phase of the project.
McCarthy has not yet set a date for the upcoming town hall meeting to answer residents’ questions about the development. Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.