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Old 04-28-2013, 07:08 PM
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Progress (?) on the pit

Developer updates progress of Cliffside Park Towne Centre project

FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013

CLIFFSIDE PARK - On an unseasonably cool spring day, attorney/developer, James "Jim" Demetrakis, stood in the middle of what is slated to become the Cliffside Park Towne Centre, to reflect on the progress of the project on April 23.

Shouting above the din caused by the Diamond Bit "hammering and drilling" at the Anderson Avenue site, Demetrakis addressed the seemingly laggard pace of what has become known, to local residents, as "the pit."

"I am as excited about this project now, as I ever was," he said. "In order to protect the surrounding area, we have to use this hammer and drilling technique to dig through the solid rock. We cannot take the risk of blasting, given the proximity of the neighboring businesses. The vibrations could have negative effects."

Accompanied on his visit to the site by borough attorney Christos Diktas, Borough Administrator Joe Rutch, Councilman Bernie Fontana and Borough Clerk Sercan Zoklu, Demetrakis explained that the planned underground parking for residents, along with a 190-space municipal lot for public use, make this tedious digging process necessary. He did admit that not all urban projects are subjected to this type of slow-paced excavation, but, explained that both the underground parking and particular rock formation on this site, in conjunction with the proximity of the neighboring properties, make it a necessity.

Demetrakis said that a nearby project he is also developing in Fort Lee, a $1 billion downtown mixed-use project that will include two 47-story residential towers, "is actually a much easier project."

"In Fort Lee, we just build up...we don’t need to dig like we have to here," he said.

Demetrakis indicated that a garage wall has already been installed to hold up Anderson Avenue, and that Grant Avenue, which ran down the center of the site, has been fully cleared. He also said that portions of old pipe have been dug up and will be replaced by completely new utilities.

The developer asserted that work at the site is being completed in quadrants, and that after the excavation is completed in one section, digging in another quadrant will be commenced.

He anticipates that at this pace, complete excavation of the site will be completed in "six to seven months from now."

Demetrakis advised that Skanska Group has been retained for pile driving, which he expects to commence in three weeks.

The developer also explained that the Cliffside Park Towne Centre is to be a "steel and plank" structure, and said it should take six to seven months to erect, with the entirety of the project expected to be completed in 18 months from now.

The Cliffside Park Towne Centre project has been pending for many years now. In 2006, the borough condemned a dozen properties in the heart of Anderson Avenue to make room for the Cliffside Park Towne Centre. Eleven of the properties were commercial buildings on Anderson and Grant avenues, some with tenants living above the stores. One property was a single-family home on Glen Street. Using eminent domain, the borough seized the properties in 2006 for economic development. In 2009, the structures on the site were leveled.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) denied the borough’s application for FHA mortgage insurance in September 2011. The developers ultimately closed on private financing in July 2012.

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anderson avenue, cliffside park, demetrakis, the pit, towne centre

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