No go on paseo City Council approves Newark Ave. redevelopment plan with some changes

The City Council on Wednesday approved by a 9-0 margin the Newark Avenue Redevelopment Plan, but without the proposed “paseo,” or walkway – for now.

The plan includes new building guidelines, more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and revitalized storefronts looking out on Christopher Columbus Drive. It covers an area bounded by Grove Street to the east, Christopher Columbus Drive to the south, Newark Avenue to the north, and Jersey Avenue to the west.

However, one of the controversial elements of the plan has been a walkway connecting Newark Avenue to Christopher Columbus Drive that would be built on an empty, privately owned lot at 141 Newark Ave.The present owners of the lot – Lawrence Perlaki and Paul Del Forno of the Five Star Investment Group – have said they want to build on it themselves and have plans and financing to do immediately, rather than having to sell it to the city. Five Star is proposing a six-story, 75-foot high building with commercial space on the ground floor and five stories of residential above that.

The City Council, including Councilman Steven Fulop, a major proponent of the plan, decided at the Wednesday meeting to go ahead and approve the plan, and forgo the passageway. They noted that the acquisition of the property will cause an added expense to the city anyway.

But city planner Robert Cotter, who spoke at Wednesday’s council meeting, was not giving up on the idea of the walkway. Before the vote, he submitted suggestions to the council to change wording in the plan so it would not “require” but “permit” a walkway to be built on any empty lot or space available in the area.

The council made that change before approval, as well as some other changes. They changed the height allowance at 141 Newark Ave. from zero stories to four stories, and mandated a three-year timeline for completion of any building projects in the area, instead of five.

But the owner of a building at 143 Newark Ave., Juno Properties, LLC, was not happy with the removal of the paseo. He had plans to renovate his four-story building to turn it into a restaurant with housing above.

The owner’s attorney, Ronald Shaljian, was skeptical about Five Star’s plans to build any project on the property.

“They say they will start building as soon as possible on their property, but time will tell,” Shaljian said. Comments on this story can be sent to


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