If you have any unanswered questions on the bold Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce plan to add a large retail facility smack dab in the middle of downtown while also constructing several parking garages, you might want to head to Village Hall's third floor on Wednesday Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Paul Vagianos, who is among the contingent of business owners and landowners that developed the proposal, said the forum will "go as long as necessary" to answer any questions residents have.
In case you've forgotten, the plan calls for the construction of a bi-level 12,000 sq ft retail facility between Gilsenan's and The Gap on East Ridgewood Avenue. Between the land lease and the tax revenue, the chamber members believe they could bond for at least a parking garage at the Hudson Street lot.
The Hudson property would increase from 76 parking spots to 156 spaces, and would also include an adjoined 4,000 sq ft retail area. Should the money generated by the retail buildings be sufficient, another garage at Walnut Street would also be constructed. It would more than double the amount of spaces, from 89 to 205. In total, there projects to be 178 more spaces.
No taxpayer money is called for to fund the plan, the chamber has said.
Central to the plan coming to fruition is how much revenue can be made on the retail buildings. The parking garages would cost $7,942,000, necessitating an annual $317,680 bond. According to figures from real estate expert Bill Gilsenan, between taxes and the land lease the village would be receiving a total annual income of $331,500. Gilsenan used "conservative projections," the chamber members have said. They based their analysis on comprables from previous land leases in the village, which they said generated far more than the $15 per square foot they used as a base.
"The parking garages will simply act as a catylyst to reigniting the downtown," landlord and chamber member Ed Sullivan previously told Patch. "With every fire you need a match. Here's the match that will start the fire to re-ignite the downtown."
There still remain some questions. Should the land lease developers fold, the village would become a landlord. It's not a situation the village wants, but the chamber members – and Village Attorney Matt Rogers – said the village would then own the property free and clear. Still, some residents expressed skepticism.
While we're here – what questions do you have? What are your thoughts on the proposal?
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