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March   7

Eminent Domain Abuse

Bloomfield's eminent domain saga continues. In today's Star Ledger, businesses pull out the heavy artillery...

A Citizens Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse campaign has been started, and lawyers have been hired to oppose a redevelopment project that could take many of the businesses by eminent domain. The group has refused the right of the township to take their properties. They are fighting not only for their land, but the businesses they say will most likely die if they are forced to move.

The plan for Bloomfield's new "revitalized" downtown would include a supermarket with onsite parking, a parking deck with 900 spaces, new stores, restaurants and some 550 condominium apartments.

March 7, 2005 in Buzz | Permalink


One of the reasons 12 Miles West moved to Bloomfield is the fact that the area is being redeveloped which will bring more people to the downtown area. Plus,the theatre 12 Miles West, is now no longer in a basement,(previous location on Bloomfield Ave in Montclair)... has a Marquee ( I cant wait til there are all those lights that sparkle and run around the marquee).
Great visibility, rehearsal rooms, one stage now, and eventually 2. All in all,a big plus for center-town living.
Adriana O Toole

Posted by: adriana otoole | Mar 7, 2005 10:48:40 AM

Why is a supermarket in downtown Bloomfield preferable to existing small merchants? Why, indeed, is a supermarket being made a key element of a revitalization plan? By my count, Bloomfield is already well served by at least 3 in-town markets, plus several others in nearby Montclair and Belleville. And does 12 Miles West really equate supermarket shopping with theatre-going? You mean to say that, for example. shoppers for wedding gowns and tuxes don't constitute just as valid a potential audience? As for a marquee being of importance, well, the one thing all the great "grind house" movie theaters had on 42nd street was a marquee, but the existence of one certainly never guaranteed either the cleanliness of the theater or the quality of its offerings.

Posted by: cathar | Mar 7, 2005 11:57:30 AM

I can walk a few short blocks to "downtown bloomfield". But I never have. Those small grocery merchants do not carry what I need to buy for my family. The obscure shops do not appeal to my needs. And the crummy sidewalks are too dirty for my one year old. I look forward to a regular grocery store , fresh, clean shops to browse in, and an occasional marquee for atmosphere.
**Just hoping for some traffic lights on Washington St.???!!!??

Posted by: shopper | Mar 7, 2005 1:32:23 PM

I agree with Shopper that there are very few stores in downtown Bloomfield worth shopping at, except for a few like Nicole's (which is not affected by the redevelopment) and Animal Instinct (which unfortunately is). The supermarket is to be a centerpiece of the "transit village" development around the train station. People will be attracted to move into the new condos and apartments to be built there, knowing there is a convenient supermarket. These new residents will help provide customers for new downtown stores that will also be part of the redevelopment. Then, let's hope that the surrounding area will spruce itself up and attract high quality stores as well, by proximity to the redeveloped area. We need some restaurants, and coffee shops, especially around 12 Miles West for pre and post-theatre dining. I do sympathize with the displaced businesses but they did know this was coming for at least 3 years, and they have the right to negotiate with the town.

Posted by: 07003resident | Mar 7, 2005 3:10:04 PM

But who's to say what constitutes a "high quality store?" And while I love supermarkets as much as anyone else, I don't think one of them qualifies either, not even a Whole Foods or a Wegman's. And as an anchor store for an entire neighborhood? What, Bloomfield's not funky enough already? It's got Oriental food markets and Vietnamese restaurants, for goodness sake! (And some fine Italian places too, like my own favorite, I Fratelli.) It may not be the vicinity of 72nd and Broadway in Manhattan, but it's Bloomfield, very much its own kind of place. If 12 Miles West wants to be there, bully for them. But no one should expect that downtown Bloomfield can perforce be shaped into something else merely because it now harbors a theater company. That was my point. Then you throw the whole eminent domain thing into the pot and you've got....what? Who knows at this point? And at what point does a town perhaps lose its soul for the price of some expensive condos? There's a real debate to be developed here, and much more is at stake than convenient pre and post-theater dining options. That said, Bloomfield has never been exactly known as a city of political and social vision, now has it? So why be so sure that such jarring change this time round is all to the good?

Posted by: cathar | Mar 7, 2005 10:50:14 PM

Not to mention that forcing somebody to sell their property just because you don't like what they've done with it is just plain wrong.

Posted by: Lex | Mar 8, 2005 10:25:24 AM

Allowing your buildings and stores to deteriorate to the point that few people are willing to shop there is just plain wrong too. Most of these landlords and merchants have done nothing over the last 10 years to try to improve their properties. This in turn, has resulted in the surrounding neighborhood's property values to lag the rest of the area as well. Is it wrong for your neighbor/s to promote blight when the rest of us are paying high taxes to live in a nice area....YES!

Posted by: Todd | Mar 8, 2005 1:24:57 PM

Wouldn't changes to the zoning laws do the same thing? Wouldn't government guaranteed business improvement loans?

Or do you believe they are letting their stores get out of date because they are just bad people, as your post implies?

If your neighbors didn't like the color you painted your house and said it was depressing their house values, should the solution be for you to be chucked out of your house so it can be sold to someone with a better color-sense? Oh, don't worry, you get to keep the proceeds of the perfunctory sale. Good luck finding another house.

Posted by: Lex | Mar 8, 2005 1:40:06 PM


So, if you neighbors think your yard is not up to snuff and hurting their property values can they sieze your house?

Posted by: Right of Center | Mar 8, 2005 1:41:19 PM


Posted by: Right of Center | Mar 8, 2005 1:41:57 PM

<*waiting for his name to be spoken*>

Posted by: Lex | Mar 8, 2005 2:04:52 PM


Posted by: Right of Center | Mar 8, 2005 2:29:27 PM

oops...I get it....oops.

Posted by: Right of Center | Mar 8, 2005 2:29:55 PM

There's something very nice, and reassuring re the future (democracy-nurturing, even!), to learning that I agree with both Lex and ROC, in the main, on an issue. And I am scared of the folks who think it's okay to seize someone else's home or business in the name of "property values." If it's uniformity of architectural and social vision you want, after all, I could point you to several state-run housing developments in the suburbs of both Glasgow and Paris. But there, of all darn things, property values have in fact decreased even as uniformity became the norm. Also, no matter how deteriorating to others a home or business may seem to outraged others (outraged in the sense of a sputtering Daffy Duck, I might add), it still remains a "castle" to others. Wasn't that one key point of "Sanford & Son?"

Posted by: cathar | Mar 8, 2005 2:30:20 PM

Ha! Freed so soon. I think ROC was going to wait until 2020.

I think people think eminent domain abuse is okay when they are either the beneficiary or they just aren't thinking too hard about fairness. I don't really believe there are many Americans who embrace utilitarianism as their governmental philosophy. Just a lot of people who try not to think philosophically when it's not in their best interests.

Posted by: Lex | Mar 8, 2005 2:35:59 PM


It's not up to my neighbors to decide, nor is it up to them to seize property for eminent domain. There are very precise rules/regulations about how and when this may occur. To your point, I would not like my house to be seized arbitrarily. But, rest assured, if my neighbors and the township were so concerned with the condition of my proerty as to suggest eminent domain, I would move to correct the condition much faster than 10 years.

With ample warning to correct what ever violations were ocurring and many years of prior notice regarding the redevelopment, the landlords in question were given plenty of notice.

Not only were are these buildings becoming an eyesore, but even more importantly they were attracting crime.

The downward spiral so often associated with blight was plainly apparent in Bloomfield Center. The residents gave the council and mayor a mandate to turn around the Center and that's exactly what is happening. No one can rightly express surprise at this hour.

Posted by: Todd | Mar 8, 2005 3:31:02 PM

Todd -

Are you saying that the property owners were told that if they spiffed up their properties they could stay? That's certainly not how the Star Ledger article put it. The article says that they were told ten years ago that they might be ousted for redevelopment but mentions no conditions or demands for improvement.

And I would say that after ten years of inaction on the proposal, surprise at it actually going forward is warranted.

Posted by: Lex | Mar 8, 2005 3:41:52 PM

I am sorry for my lack of knowledge on all this but I have lived in Bloomfield my entire 38 year life and own a home here. I do see the value of my home going up and the area looking nice if rich buisnesses came in and fixed it (I have watched the bmw/mercedes crowd driving around the area checking it out). It will of course destroy the lives and famillies of the people who own those buisnesses now and cant really afford to fix the buildings up to our standards. As for the aftermath if we do throw them to the wolves everyone else would do better. The new stores would make more money, homeowners would see value increase, anyone who wants to build a condo would see more profits, and life for us would be better in general. Every one of these things were accomplished by the nazi party and all they had to do was get rid of a few people they didnt like.

Posted by: chris | Nov 26, 2005 2:22:24 PM

Bloomfield Center has been decaying for decades. With the NYC direct train, it holds the promise of being a destination, rather than a place to avoid. The Township of Bloomfield's mandate was to turn things around. A similar mandate in Englewood in Bergen County, where crime and decay had set at one end of town, has done wonders for that municipality. I wonder how many of the high-minded individuals professing support for the status quo actually even set foot in downtown Bloomfield. The parking's terrible, the ambiance even worse. Some good stores -- Annie Sez, Good Guys,
C-Town, Willie's Diner, IHOP (now being rebuilt, I hear), the Sneaker store, Mandee's -- make it a worthwhile destination, but it's certainly not high on most shopper's lists. Why do you think there are all those bright new stores on Broad St. in Bloomfield (and 12 Miles West, too) all of a sudden, even before the redevelopment's begun? Because change begets change.

The clock is ticking on downtown Bloomfield. To delay or stop the process of change altogether because of a number of angry small business people who have had years to contemplate relocation, may result in Bloomfield's death knell -- and just as it has reasserted itself in the residential real estate market as one of Essex County's most affordable and appealing towns with, at least on the primary level, very good schools. Did you know that Brookdale and Oakview primaries are among the VERY TOP in the county? If the downtown falters any futher, that kind of progress will have been a waste.

Posted by: Bloomfield Booster | Nov 26, 2005 4:47:47 PM

If the property in downtown Bloomfield is becoming so valuable, then I am sure that some should be willing to come up with the money to by it from the owners legitimately, without seizing it.

Posted by: Bitpusher | Nov 26, 2005 5:26:48 PM

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