Westfield Solicits Proposals to Turn Historic North Ave. Train Station into a Restaurant/Bar

By LAUREN S. BARR
Specially Written for The Leader/Times

WESTFIELD — As a way to generate revenue for the town, and potentially increase foot traffic, Westfield is soliciting proposals from restaurateurs to turn the historic North Avenue train station building into a restaurant and bar.

Using a concessionaire’s license, the successful bidder would pay the $2,000 annual fee to the state, but would not own the license or the property. The property is owned by the Town of Westfield and currently is occupied by both the United Fund and the Westfield Foundation, which pay the utilities but no rent, according to Mayor Shelley Brindle.

“It’s an underleveraged asset,” Mayor Brindle told The Westfield Leader. The mayor went on to say that, “I’m hoping that through this we can find someone that would be willing to donate office space” for the United Fund and that the Foundation will be able to utilize meeting space at town hall.

According to the mayor, a concessionaire’s license follows a similar application process with the state as it would to own a license, but the license stays with the property as long as the town retains ownership. Mayor Brindle cited several local examples including the concessionaire’s license in use by the restaurant at the Ash Brook Golf Course.

The RFP (Request for Proposal) states that the most recent liquor license transfer in Westfield sold for $950,000. In addition to the $2,000 annual fee for the license, potential bidders will have to commit to an annual rent of no less than $60,000, a six-year lease, and they would bear the full cost of renovating the interior of the historic building.

According to the RFP, to be successful a bidder will need to “Offer a compelling economic proposal to the Town, including lease terms that exceed the minimum, increases in rents over time to reflect inflation, and potentially creative commercial sharing proposals that would be a combination of minimum rental cost plus a percentage of sales.”

According to the full RFP, the bidder will get to propose the name for the new establishment, but it will have to get town approval. The full RFP lays out a long list of qualifications required by the bidders in terms of restaurant experience, business and marketing plans.

Proposals are due at noon on Friday, September 25.

A summary of the RFP can be found here.

For a full copy of the RFP, contact the town clerk at townclerk@westfieldnj.gov.