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>Parking garage closer to reality


Parking garage closer to reality

Friday, January 18, 2008

Last updated: Friday January 18, 2008, EST 10:44 AMBY EVONNE COUTROSSTAFF WRITER

RIDGEWOOD — The village is one step closer to building a multi-level parking garage on North Walnut Street that would ease parking problems in the business district and add 10,000 square feet of stores in an area devoid of retail businesses.

The Village Council gave the nod this week to the North Walnut Street redevelopment plan, which could bring the 378-space garage to town by July 2009.

“We began a project to create a redevelopment district about a year ago, which encompasses almost the whole block,” said Village Manager James Ten Hoeve.

The redevelopment zone is mostly owned by the village and is bordered by East Ridgewood Avenue, Oak Street, North Walnut Street and Franklin Avenue, Ten Hoeve said.

The plan does not include the redevelopment of properties on the East Ridgewood side of the block, he said.

A developer of the property could be hired by May with construction beginning in July, according to a timeline for the development

“The ultimate plan is a ground level plus three stories of parking with open parking at the roof level,” Ten Hoeve said. “The conceptual drawings of the retail in 2005 called for 10,000 square feet of retail on the first level. It could be more. The plan also allows housing up to 12 affordable housing units.”

The dimensions of the garage call for the acquisition of portions of property between Oak Street and North Walnut for a rear access road to the new stores.

The plan also includes the acquisition of a service garage on Franklin Avenue owned by Ridgewood 120 LLC and currently for rent.

“We have an appraisal for $1.245 million,” Ten Hoeve said of the sum McGuire Associates of Jersey City — the village’s appraiser company — has offered the owners of the service garage property.

“We meet with the property owners and their attorney next week, and we hope we can come to an agreement,” Ten Hoeve said.

In the past, the property owners have asked for $2.1 million, Ten Hoeve said.

“If we come to terms then it’s a purchase,” Ten Hoeve said. “If not, then we will undertake the process of eminent domain.”

The next step is to hire a redeveloper, Ten Hoeve said.

A 2002 study had put the cost of construction at $5.6 million. The cost in the study included all property acquisition and 340 garage parking spaces, almost 40 spaces shy of what is called for in the current plan.

“Construction costs are up since 2002,” Ten Hoeve said. “The cost of steel has quadrupled probably. It will be a more expensive job, but we will see what we can do with the redeveloper.”

The intent by the council was to keep the structure from looking like a garage, Ten Hoeve said.

“Their goal was to have people drive down the street and never see a garage,” Ten Hoeve said. “The facade will be a little more expensive than most garages, and we hope it looks like brownstones.”

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