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What Should Take the U.S. Gypsum Factory's Place in Clark?

In this series, we ask for your vision for vacant properties.

What does Raritan Road need?

In our new series, we ask what you'd put in the available spaces in Clark and Garwood. In this edition, we tackle the former U.S. Gypsum paper manufacturing plant on Raritan Road, across from and

The factory was built in 1947 and operated as a paper manufacturer until its shuttering in August 2009. It has been on the market for the past six months. Mindy Lissner of CBRE Global Commercial Real Estate is the listing agent for the property.

"It’s been pursued by a number of people looking to redevelop," says Lissner. "We've had a good amount of interest. It would likely be sold for an alternative use, as the factory itself is antiquated."

Lissner says most of the parties are interested in the 27-acre property, not the buildings, and would tear down the factory. Lissner says the property will only require minimal remediation to meet environmental standards for new construction. The for-sale price on the property is not being disclosed, and interested buyers have to sign confidentiality agreements just to see the listing.

The land is currently zoned for industrial use, and potential new owners would likely be petitioning the zoning board for a zoning change.

"What we can do is bring it before council and deem it an area of redevelopment, so then they wouldn't have to get the zoning change," says Mayor Sal Bonaccorso.

Though rumors fly about what the property may turn into (one Facebook fan of ours said she heard it would become a Kohl's), Bonaccorso says he truly has no idea what the property will become.

"I've heard X, Y and Z. I've even heard it's going to be a new municipal complex," he laughs. "I can promise it won't be that, but otherwise, god only knows. Everyone is going to speculate. What I’ve learned is, until I see it on paper, all that is is pleasant conversation."

Bonaccorso does say what he hopes the property will not become. "God forbid they want to put more housing. I'm not in favor of any more housing," he says. "And I'm not in favor of big box stores. Am I open to shopping? Offices? A hotel? Restaurants and different things? Sure I am. But I've got to see it on paper and ask questions, because any one of those things could be done so they're good or could be a nightmare depending on the plan. We've got to start that way. Stay cool. Look at the issue, see what you've got and then go from there with an opinion."

So tell us, Clark. What would you put there? A mixed-use development? Shopping? Condos?

Take our poll and leave your vision for the space in our comments section.

Prospective renters out there? Mindy Lissner of CBRE Global Commercial Real Estate is the listing agent. Get in touch with her at 732-509-2831 (office), 732-261-6319 (cell) or by email at mindy.lissner@cbre.com.

About this column: In highlighting vacant buildings in Clark and Garwood, we aim to help residents take a proactive role in planning and building their community. Know of a vacant space we should highlight? Email jessica.remo@patch.com.

J. Edward CooperLevi March 29, 2012 at 08:06 PM
As far as the USG property, no idea. A park would be wonderful; but financially it wouldn't make sense. A" green" innovative industry that would generate jobs and push us towards the future- one that was realistic in its working hours and not add to the congestion nearby (operate whatever it's producing at night, have minimal office workers during the day). As for Westfield Ave....As a business owner on Westfield Ave a Farmers Market would be ideal for me personally. I would like to see it as each department being it's own business: produce, dairy, flowers, bread, butcher, seafood, cheese, deli, BAKERY lol (I'd go in on it) even if it is right across the street, the parking would be better for me:)...it would give people the opportunity to open their own small business, Schieferstein's Farm could supply local produce if they'd be into it. It would take a lot of coordination and community support. I've been in business in this town for 6 years now and have been embraced and supported. There are too many abandoned buildings over here, and it's a shame because there's a lot of cars (if they'd slow down and let people cross the street that'd be a bonus)- remain positive...something will come.
Matt Casey March 29, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Gerard - $28 million is the price. Developers plan a supermarket anchored shopping center that will include additional stores. Not sure if it'll come to fruition (approvals, zoning change, traffic studies, etc.), but that's the plan at this time. "Big Box" retailers have already been approached concerning their possible interest...
Diane Krajenski March 29, 2012 at 10:48 PM
I find your comments interesting. I have been in the area for 38 years and the business at Westfield Ave has changed dramatically since I first moved here. 30 years ago there were more thriving businesses at Westfield Ave. location. It has shifted to the Raritan Ave area. So years ago Westfield Ave was considered the center of town for shopping. The problem is the people in Clark area are not spending like the people in Cranford or Wesfield. A farmer's market at Wesfield ave might be interesting but I doubt Schiferstein would go in on it. What do you mean by let people cross the street? You have peaked my interest as to what your business is in Clark?
J. Edward CooperLevi March 30, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I responded but I don't know where it went:) I own That Bakery on Westfield; it's the same building as Salon West and Pronto Grill. I meant by people crossing the st. was hardly anyone will stop for you to cross Westfield Ave like they do in other towns. There needs to be crosswalks on every corner between Liberty and Madison Hill to slow traffic down, speed bumps or grated pavement wouldn't hurt either. There are too many businesses down here with the same name ''FOR RENT". The old A&P has been empty since I got here, the building next to me where All Towne Realty was and a chiropractor is empty except for the Autism center in the rear. The two barber shops merged, leaving the large one empty. This town is very community minded and I've been embraced and supported, for that I'm grateful and appreciative. The idea of an independent farmers market is something I'm trying to organize in downtown Rahway for all of the new occupants in the new apts and condos built down there. It's a terrific idea that allows people to go into business with out huge overhead, creates jobs and part time jobs for kids in school..It's a win/win. It would work here also; Owning a small business is very tough these days especially when you have to pay for your own health insurance, which is equal to my rent. Collectively that could go down, and be a big help.
Gerard Ziobro Sr. March 31, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Those yellow signs they put at crosswalks stating it is the law to stop for peds work well. More walks with those signs I believe would work. Rahway is a city with the train station and They have done a great job with downtown Rahway. Clark is a small town and I dont think we need more apartments. But, that is only my opinion and maybe could be done if not overboard . I would like to see the A&P divided into at least 3 different businesses with the entrances facing the parking lot and make parking for the entire area. with safe crosswalks. I know we need to tie the whole area together so people can park easily and walk safely. shopping from store to store instead of running in a store or not stopping at all because its too hard. Some places need to clean up outside and make the area look like a place you want to open a business. It must be hard running a nice quality bakery in a nice building when everything around it looks bad.Some of the places need toclean up their store fronts&walks.Pick weeds and get the garbage from the bushes. Sweep the walk in front of store. Parking in back should be clean. A&P should be made to maintain their property. Wstfld ave.at night looks nice. In the day. Signs are at different heights. The telephone poles are leaning. abandoned stores look like crap. Why arent the Realtors getting after the owners of these buildings to make them saleable or rentable? I appreciate your efforts. wish you much success with your bakery.
J. Edward CooperLevi March 31, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Thank you :)
Diane Krajenski March 31, 2012 at 08:17 PM
We don't need yellow crosswalks for shoppers that don't exist. More lines dividing the streets just make it look more city-fide One big business with a name that would take an interest in the old A&P would boost business in town. Or even a restaurant. Not another food store. That old A&P store requires a major clean up. If you are going to do a bakery do one where you can sit down. Not much selection in your bakery. No one can see the sign from the street. Vacarro's has been the family run bakery in Clark for over 50 years. Where are you orginally from Bakery man?
Gerard Ziobro Sr. March 31, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I believe the area could easily have the look and feel of Smithville or at least Westfield or Cranford. How do we go about attracting business to our vacant stores? Do we need a chamber of commerce? Is it up to the realtors? Do we make it a cleaner and safer area? Get after the owners of the properties to clean up? Planning board? Mayor?County? If USG becomes a shopping center. Will the busin esses leave Westfield Ave. and the Clarkton Shopping center to move to the new center? Then we would have more empty buildings all over town.
J. Edward CooperLevi April 01, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Originally from Deal (a small town 'down the shore' as the people up here refer to it)- don't know if you've heard of it. As for the selection in my bakery: perhaps you haven't seen the website. 85% of my business is based on special orders for larger parties, not walk in retail trade. As Pronto Grill moved in, there is now more walk ins because he sells daily items. I don't expect people to get baked goods every day, that's why it's special. What's ordered by customers is what dictates what's off the shelf for retail. As for a sit down bakery, no thank you. Not here. I'm doing that somewhere else, there's not enough concentration of people walking or parking for something like that right now. As for the yellow crosswalks for shoppers that don't exist, maybe if you tried crossing this street during the day when people are doing 45 instead of 25 you'd think differently, I've seen elderly people try to go from my store to the pizzeria across the street and I had to leave my store to help them get across, STANDING in the middle of Westfield ave to stop traffic to let these people get across the street..It's been a long time since I've been a Boy Scout, but I haven't forgotten my manners as many people in this area have by the way they drive, thinking their time is worth more than people's safety. I know a lot of the Vaccaro family, very nice people, they have ordered from me many times. It's not competition -it's expansion. As for the sign, you can't see a 10 foot sign???????
J. Edward CooperLevi April 01, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I agree with you Gerard, there's a lot of possibility at this end of town, but traffic has to be slowed down. When I first signed my lease the A&P was still here and I was very happy about that because I could have walked (at least tried to) there when I run out of some ingredients. This town is very community minded, there's an old time feeling to the people that stop in my store and I get to know. I met with a group of developers that wanted to do a ''food court'' of independent restaurants in the old A&P, I thought that was a spectacular idea, but they took their money elsewhere. As suggested to me above, a sit down place , I'm doing that elsewhere and in the process of franchising, which will require me to get an additional larger production space ;)..maybe I'll be in the old A&P lolol (that's a lil too large at this point). All this 'east end of Westfield' needs is imagination, cooperation, and the thing that's hardest to get $$$$ from investors. But I'm not so sure that when a million dollars an hour is spent in this country on lottery tickets, that things are as bad as we're led to believe!! The fear faction has to be taken out of the equation for a successful recovery to our economy - and how coincidentally as election time rolls around the big oil companies are raising prices, pocketing profits like madmen, blaming it on the administration who wants to end tax laws that enables them to do exactly what they're doing-that's a whole other discussion I won't have :)
Karen Kovitch April 05, 2012 at 05:58 PM
WE ALREADY have section 8 at Lexington Village and probably Hillcrest as well
Karen Kovitch April 05, 2012 at 06:17 PM
We should try to attract a Made in America store. All products sold would be made in the USA. http://www.madeinamericastore.com/ Trader Joes Also a good steak restaurant
John Loconsolo April 19, 2012 at 12:45 AM
A craft brewery like Flying Fish in Cherry Hill or Cricket Hill in Fairfield.
Gerard Ziobro Sr. April 19, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Is it true that SONIC is looking at the jacks Tavern property and the USG property?
Diane Krajenski April 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Nope.
Gerard Ziobro Sr. April 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Great Idea
Gerard Ziobro Sr. April 20, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I seem to complain about some things. But, I will also mention when I think things are good. It seems to me that the Westfield ave, area has been cleaned up some. I see some new plants and a few sidewalk and garden areas cleaned up. I saw some painting going on the other day. If its a little of a spring cleanin g. It realy is making a difference.
Larry Russo April 20, 2012 at 04:45 AM
NICE CELAN OPEN LAND for all to use - imagine that
J. Edward CooperLevi April 20, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Does anyone know if the land has been inspected by the EPA? That could be a nightmare.
Leo M April 20, 2012 at 03:02 PM
That's the rumor I heard. That would be great! It would be open space and Keep the property values up.
Tom Anastasatos April 26, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I think that Clark needs a movie theater with several good restaurants.
Tom Anastasatos April 26, 2012 at 08:53 PM
great idea
Tom Anastasatos April 26, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Chamber of Commerce
Tom Anastasatos April 26, 2012 at 08:56 PM
we already have section 8 in Clark - look into it
Diane Krajenski April 26, 2012 at 09:45 PM
I am all for better restaurants & deli's. Better services in general. Hair salons etc. How many people actually go to the movie theater today with Nex flex & other ways of watching movies.
J. Edward CooperLevi April 27, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Movie theater other than an AMC Lowes owned would be phenomenal. It may shed a light of artistry rather than corporate domination. @Diane, PLENTY of people go to theaters regardless of Netflix (not flex) - But Rahway is building a beautiful theater on Hamilton Street that is going to knock the socks off people who are into the arts, along with designated artist space living and Broadway costume designers making the costumes...Clark is a beautiful suburban town- it's not uppity and it's not ghetto-it has a thriving middle class. It should be a town that is used as an example of middle class living;I would much rather come to Clark to go to the movies than Aviation Plaza, Mountainside or Menlo- hey if they did a real IMAX there it would be terrific . An adult community would be wonderful, it wouldn't impact the school system...anything geared towards DINKs would be great. I'm still skeptical whether the land itself is cleared from the EPA. That could be very expensive.
Kraft Mnich August 02, 2013 at 11:40 PM
A Drive-In theatre would be cool.
Larry Russo August 05, 2013 at 01:35 AM
How about integrating the land AROUND the proposed shopping center a walking path - so when you drop someone off to shop you have an option to STAY PARKED and go for a walk under nice tree lined paths AROUND the complex.... maybe a nice LARGE coffee shop - NO STARBUCKS or D&D - and NO WALMART BANKS or goddamn NAIL SALONS !!! - how about something different! Oh and let's make parking EASY - with TREES for SHADE. I'd like to see a really nice pet store and a hobby shop. I wish Clark could bring back the BOWLING LANES... even on a smaller scale for recreation with the kids.
Regina Collins September 21, 2013 at 11:13 PM
I grew up in Clark. As I understood the town is zoned not to have a downtown. Hopefully a development of this type can bring ratables to the town. I know the people who live near here aren't going to be happy, but when you buy a home you should be aware of where you are buying and what that implicates. I live in Cranford on a major thoughfare and I know there are things that can happen that I may not like, but I knew that when I brought my house. Some thing you have to live with even though you may not like them
Larry Russo October 10, 2013 at 11:52 PM
clark needs a CAR WASH !!!

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