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Council Moving Forward with Downtown Parking Garage Plan

A vote on Dec. 12 could authorize up to $15,000 to determine what price developers will pay to lease a building that's central to a multi-faceted parking garage plan.

Ridgewood is nearly at the critical juncture that will determine if an ambitious plan to construct parking garages and a retail building downtown is financially feasible.

The council next week is likely to approve spending up to $15,000 on drafting a request for proposals (RFP) to gauge a developer's interest in leasing what's currently a parking lot on East Ridgewood Avenue and constructing a bi-level 12,000 square foot retail facility.

Ridgewood's chamber of commerce believes a developer would pay enough on the land lease and in property taxes to fund construction of a parking garage to replace the Hudson lot (which includes a 4,000 square foot retail facility), and possibly the Walnut Street lot as well.

In total, there projects to be 178 more spaces between the two garages if constructed. The parking garages are projected to cost $7,942,000, necessitating an annual $317,680 bond. 

They key, according to Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce president Tom Hillmann is the RFP.

"Until we have the RFP we really can’t go forward with the plan," Hillmann said Wednesday night.

The chamber has "conservatively" estimated a $15 per square foot price at the retail facility. They say the plan should not require taxpayer funding.

Council members Bernadette Walsh and Tom Riche have been somewhat apprehensive about the process thus far.

On Wednesday, Walsh said the only person qualiied to determine the value of the property was a state-certified appraiser. The scope of the project is large, she said. Not just anyone can draft the proposal to maximize the revenue needed to pay the substantial bond, she contended.

Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli responded by saying what matters is the current market for the property, which would be between Gilsenan's and The Gap. An appraiser can enter the fold later on, he said.

"To me it’s too good of an opportunity to ignore," Pucciarelli said of an RFP, adding spending up to $15,000 is an "investment" in the downtown. "If we don’t have adequate parking downtown it’s an invitation to strangle the CBD.”

Riche noted the village would have to develop a framework to ensure bids – favorable bids – were returned. Village Attorney Matt Rogers will be incorporating language cited by Riche and determining if an appraiser can be found for $15,000 or less.

A vote to draft an RFP is expected on Dec. 12.

Ron Verdicchio December 10, 2012 at 04:22 AM
There is no reason for the Village to fund the RFP. It should have been funded by the Chamber of Commerce, not the taxpayers.
News Man December 10, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Ron, hasn't this orginal plan already been paid for by the Chamber? If the Village Council wants to proceed further, the RFP should be paid for by the taxpayers and not left to the Chamber. It's like the tail wagging the dog of downtown progress planning.
Mikka H December 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM
the chamber has not funded anything.....this is a "click" looking after their own interest's and running roughshod over the residents of ridgewood....NOTHING should be done until ken smith is sorted out....and that does NOT mean taking the property under the guise of eminent domain because someone on the council thinks the property is blighted....what a load of BS.....
RdgwdGRock December 10, 2012 at 02:37 PM
good point and agreed. continued wasted money on these consultants over the years.
Boyd A. Loving December 11, 2012 at 05:59 PM
It is likely that the Ken Smith property will be vacant for quite some time prior to the start of construction there. Thus, this might be an ideal location for surface parking, especially for commuters (freeing up spots at Chestnut Street for shoppers, perhaps). With this in mind, why has the Village demanded that the private commuter parking lot at Ken Smith be shut down?

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