Tuesday night, January 7th I was at town hall to hear Maplewoodians and their elected officials ‘discuss’ the ongoing issue of the redevelopment of the post office site situated in the heart of the village’s quaint, yet vibrant downtown.
The post office’s lease has not been renewed by the town. Mayor DeLuca and the council narrowed down the number of developers for the project to one (L&M Development Partners) after the Maplewood Economic Committee’s recommendation.
Elected officials voted unanimously to move forward with the chosen developer and the basic plan put forth by the same elected officials (which will be henceforth dubbed the “King’s plan).
Curious… as it seemed that most Maplewoodians in attendance were seeking a temporary delay in order to have more input on the project and more transparency from government about why the “King’s plan” was chosen. The plan has several parameters that didn’t sit right with many of the townspeople (including yours truly). Engage Maplewood is the community group who organized much of the town to become more involved in the issue during the last year and many from the group were present and vocal. Perhaps as many as 15 people including business owners and other concerned residents got up to ask Mayor DeLuca to think through the ramifications of what the “Kings plan” might unleash.
The “King’s plan” calls for King’s supermarket to move across the street into the redeveloped post office site in order to give them more space. Twenty-five (25) apartments will be above the supermarket, so the new building would be considerably higher, blocking sightlines of South Mountain and other areas. There were also questions about parking, and nobody (at least during the two hours in which I was present) discussed what business(es) would or could move into the current King’s location without significant renovation there.
While having more ‘Maplewood style’ commerce, downtown bustle and tax ratables is a good goal, the devil is in the details. I hope the final plan is adjusted to Honor the Vibe of Maplewood! Lastly, the Post office is actually a pretty drab looking building. They are considering moving the mail to Springfield Ave.
See the patch link for more details