BY KATHY CHANG
WOODBRIDGE — The Planning Board is in the process of reviewing redevelopment plans for a vacant auto repair shop on Route 1 in Avenel and the area of the former Rug’s & Riffy’s Bar and Grill along Rahway Avenue.
The Township Council voted in favor of adopting two ordinances for the “Rahway Avenue — Nielson Street Redevelopment plan” and the “Route 1, Area 18 Redevelopment Plan” at a council meeting on Feb. 2.
The “Rahway Avenue — Nielson Street Redevelopment plan” is a portion of the township’s push to have the downtown Woodbridge proper area become a significant high-end luxury transit-oriented downtown.
The plan includes the redevelopment of the Rug’s & Riffy’s Bar and Grill and three homes into transit village apartments and retail on the other side of Main Street.
Mayor John McCormac has said it is no secret that there is an interest in housing downtown, adding that to compete with other communities, it is important for Woodbridge to not fall behind and move with the trend of creating a transit village.
He said Quick Chek, which is next to the Rug’s & Riffy’s Bar and Grill, is coming down and 240 units have already been approved to be built near the bar and grill.
The “Route 1, Area 18 Redevelopment Plan” includes a vacant auto repair shop and vehicle storage lot on Route 1 south in Avenel.
The Quick Chek on the corner of Route 1 north, which is currently across the street from the vacant auto repair shop, will move and replace the shop area, which McCormac has called a “totally unattractive” area.
In McCormac’s State of the Township address last month, he said for many years township officials have talked about the Route 1 corridor in Avenel from Route 35 in Avenel to the Rahway border and have prioritized its redevelopment.
“The effort is paying off in a big way,” he said.
Along with improvements to the vacant auto repair shop, McCormac said the Holiday Inn Express is under new ownership and every room is being upgraded. An old, dilapidated apartment building next to it has been demolished and an old junkyard behind the hotel is gone.
The Bud’s Hut bar and restaurant, which closed in August 2015, will soon become a McDonald’s.
A new Wawa gas station and convenience center has taken the place of the Gem Motel, Mom’s Diner and an old gas station that has not been open in 40 years.
Further up the northbound side is the Americana and Avenel Motels and both are slated for redevelopment and should be down this year, the mayor said.
McCormac said work is finally starting on the old Big Top lot just past the firehouse, with plans approved for a small strip mall and possibly a restaurant.
And on the southbound side, the old Star Motel is gone and soon the City Motel and the bar in front of it will be gone, replaced by a small hotel from a national chain.