Speaking at a recent redevelopment conference, Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp outlined a rebranding strategy that has been underway in his community for the past two years.
That has meant commercials, newsletters, the internet and other media aimed at casting the city in a new light, he said, and the effort has started to bear fruit in a very tangible way.
“We’ve been having some success,” Mapp said in March, during New Jersey Future’s annual Redevelopment Forum in New Brunswick. “There’s been a new confidence in Plainfield, and that new confidence has resulted in a plethora of projects that are currently in the pipeline.”
One of those developments is now underway — and it’s slated to be Plainfield’s largest mixed-use construction project in decades. Earlier this month, developers broke ground at a site that will house a commercial building and a 90-unit, midrise residential complex downtown.
The $30 million project, called The Muse at Grant Avenue Station, is being built under a joint venture between J.G. Petrucci Co. Inc. and TD Partners. They have already started construction on a new 44,000-square-foot facility for ABC Supply Co., a building products wholesaler, which will serve as the commercial portion and is slated for completion this December.
That will be followed by the five-story multifamily building at the site, which covers a stretch of Second Street near Grant Avenue, according to a news release.
When complete, it will be Plainfield’s largest mixed-use construction project in more than 40 years and the largest in the Fourth Ward in over 50 years.
“This development will provide housing, employment opportunities, millions in economic activity, and help to revitalize a neighborhood that has not received the attention it deserves,” Mapp said in a prepared statement following a recent groundbreaking ceremony. “ABC Supply Co. is one of Plainfield’s (Urban Enterprise Zone) certified businesses and a valued and respected employer in our community, and I am glad they chose to expand and invest more in our great city.”
In the news release, the city said ABC Supply’s new facility will allow the company to expand its operations in the city. The Wisconsin-based corporation, which operates 600 locations in 49 states, has been in the city for 20 years and is expected to give preference to city residents for new jobs that come from the expansion.
Construction is expected to generate some 200 temporary jobs during course of the project.
“Our goal is to build projects that create meaningful opportunities for residents and deliver real economic value to communities,” said Patrick Terborg, co-developer and co-founder of TD Partners. “This project keeps that promise as well as revitalizes an area in need.”
Greg Rogerson, principal of J.G. Petrucci, said the “public-private partnership has been rewarding for our company, but I expect it will be even more rewarding for the community.”
At the time of his presentation in March, Mapp said there were nearly 60 projects across Plainfield that were in various stages of development or redevelopment. Many of them were drawn to the city’s walkability and access to mass transit, which was the topic of a breakout session during New Jersey Future’s Redevelopment Forum.
Specifically, the session touched on Amtrak’s plans to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, also known as the Gateway project. Mapp said the expansion of rail access would likely mean direct service to Manhattan for Plainfield and other stops on NJ’s Transit’s Raritan Valley Line, which currently terminates in Newark.
If that capacity were to expand, he said, “The impact on property values cannot be understated or underestimated.” At the time of the New Jersey Future event, about half of the projects in the city’s $75 million pipeline were within or around its transit-oriented development footprint.
“The common denominator and what really makes transit-oriented development projects throughout our community attractive as far as investment is the accessibility and the convenience of a commute to New York City,” Mapp said. “That is so important if cities like Plainfield are to move forward with transit-oriented development.”