Friday, July 27, 2007

Redevelopment - Ledger - Rahway 16-story residential complex

Published in the Star-Ledger, Friday, July 27, 2007

With high-rise, Rahway is now moving on up
At 16 stories, with Manhattan views, it'll be tallest residential in county

Star-Ledger Staff

From a barren concrete shell high above the Rahway train station, city officials and builders marked the "topping off" of the Skyview at Carriage City Plaza tower yesterday, the signature building of Rahway's extensive downtown redevelopment.

At 16 stories, it's the tallest residential structure in the county, dwarfing the rest of Rahway's modest Main Street. Its 178 feet are second only to the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth and its upper floors offer something most folks in Rahway never knew they had -- a clear view of the Manhattan skyline 22 miles away.

But at yesterday's event, Mayor James Kennedy said it's the building's symbolism, more than its height, that makes it important to the city. After years of redevelopment talk, the towering downtown hotel provides a concrete example of what Rahway might look like a decade from now. Kennedy said the city has already received proposals for a 15-story apartment building across the street and another high-rise on the other side of the railroad tracks.

Coupled with several other downtown projects already underway, the new Rahway will be distinctly taller with far more people living in the town center.

"Because of this development we've been able to market the city of Rahway," he said. "This adds energy to the town."

When finished, Skyview will fea ture 222 condominium units and 102 hotel rooms under the Hotel Indigo brand, a new boutique chain launched by Intercontinental Hotels. It will also feature some 40,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, where developers hope to lure a gym, spa, upscale restaurant and small supermarket.

"We want to mirror Jersey City and Hoboken with similar lifestyle amenities," said Jason Pierson, one of the brokers marketing the ground floor.

Altogether, the project is ex pected to cost $101 million, said developer Carlos Silva of Silcon Group, including the roughly $500,000 his firm paid Rahway for the land several years ago. Its two- bedroom units are being marketed for around $350,000, while the tower's 13 penthouses will be priced at $800,000 and up, Silva said. From each condo sale, $10,000 is given to the city, he added.

The building isn't expected to open until sometime next summer, but with more than 100 condo units already under contract, Silva said his belief in Rahway is paying off.

"I've been an Elizabeth resident all my life and Rahway was always something of a missing equation," Silva said. "Now everyone's coming on board saying Rahway's the new New Brunswick, the new Hobo ken."

While the Skyview gives Rah way an encouraging start down that road, much remains to be seen. Skyview is Rahway's tallest project to date, but its most ambi tious -- a plan to replace City Hall and police headquarters with a new retail and residential village -- remains controversial, with some in town opposed to selling City Hall for development.

Jonathan Casiano may be reached at (908) 527-4012 or jcasia

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.