Archive for the 'development' Category

Yet two more Valley St. area projects

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There are two more sites near Valley St. in South Orange that are making their way thru the ‘process.’
NAPA PROJECT (top image) – The first project up to bat at the design meeting in January was the site where NAPA Autoparts and the dilapidated building next door currently sit. The developer wanted to construct 8 units. The Design Board commented on the stucco features of the building façade and asked them to make it a darker color.
The parking lot on the south side of the building will remain.  Thankfully the developer is limiting the project to 3 storeys and they have not tried to get tax abatements either.  The Planning Board at SOPAC will take up the matter and get deeper into the project.
70 SECOND STREET PROJECT (bottom image) – Next project was from developer Henry Szwed of Eclipse Real Estate Partners.  His group were willing to listen to the Design Board and the neighborhood who were tough on the design. They asked him to reorient the building to FACE the street instead of facing inward and up the hill.   The Design Board had some images on their computers and offered those as ideas and along with the residents tried to steer the developer toward making the building fit in with the homes on that street which are small & simple Victorian style homes and not as ‘South Philly’ as above.
The developer is hoping to SELL (not rent) five apartments of 3 bedrooms each.   As the building seeks a variance to be so close to the street, the DB suggested downsizing the building to 4 apartments if it would still be economically feasible.   In the parking lot after the meeting, speaking with neighbors,  the developer picked up on the idea of creating age-friendly apartments and might incorporate that as a way to shrink the streetside unit to be farther from the street.   The DB strongly urged him to rework his design to fit into the streetscape and then return.
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Fourth and Valley Development

 

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In a March follow up meeting on the Fourth & Valley redevelopment project, the town planner summarized expectations and a general framework to town officials and concerned residents gathered.

The first meeting in February with developers looking to create a major residential and retail building at Fourth and Valley showed that there were differing expectations on all sides.  The Development Committee had some major revisions to suggest to the developer, Meridia who was originally looking to build something ‘massive.’  Several members of the Academy Heights neighborhood association gathered prior to summarize their concerns and Academy Heights’ resident David Kraiker spoke on behalf of those members.  Village President, Sheena Collum also made it clear that any development  was going to be in line with what the community envisioned.  It appeared that the developer appreciated the input.

Stay tuned for the next meeting when the developer is expected to submit a revised plan that would hopefully be even smaller scale than the above guideline.

Link to more info on meeting

 

 

Development at 320 Valley St., South Orange

At a Jan 4 meeting, approval from the South Orange Planning Board was given for the 320 Valley project to proceed.  It will be a 22-unit apartment building, with 2,400 sq ft of ground floor retail space. As a result of neighborhood residents voicing their concerns, the developers did agree to contribute small sums of money for:

  1. situations caused by increased traffic at the intersection of Valley St., and the future building’s driveway.
  2. tree plantings, since they will be eliminating all the trees in the area in order to build

South Orange Maplewood Homes

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There are more developments planned on Valley all the way down to Roland. The newest proposed project at 320 Valley calls for 22 units with one retail spot available.   Proposal sketch above and current photo far above. All this on a plot that currently only has ONE two-family home – the blue home pictured above.

There are many trees and shrubs (pictured) which give the area respite from the bustle of Valley St.  It would appear that the developers will build all the way down to Valley St. for the retail spot which would eliminate the greenery.  Ora Manor is immediately to the south (not pictured) and extends to the street., so current zoning shows that the proposal is ‘conforming’, but just because it’s conforming doesn’t mean 22 units are good for the residents of the area.  There are still vacancies in retail on South Orange Ave. and Valley and…

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Maplewood Post Office Update

Maplewood Perspectives_2015-05-06_reduced_Page_1The site plan of the former Post Office of Maplewood is finally approved for development by Maplewood Redevelopers, LLC.  A mixed-use, 20-unit residential and retail building at the site will be constructed.

The planning board recently voted 9-0 in favor and last month the township closed on the sale of the property.

Issues resolved included:

  1. Facade Setback – there will be a straight vertical building as pictured
  2. Garage Opening – width settled
  3. Parking Stalls on North & South Side – widths settled

There will be a transfer of the 5-year tax abatement agreement (PILOT) from the original developer, Maplewood Redevelopers, LLC, a division of JMF Properties, to two new entities: JMF Maplewood LLC and Gladstone of Maplewood LLC.

Developments along Valley St., South Orange

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There are more developments planned on Valley all the way down to Roland. The newest proposed project at 320 Valley calls for 22 units with one retail spot available.   Proposal sketch above and current photo far above. All this on a plot that currently only has ONE two-family home – the blue home pictured above.

There are many trees and shrubs (pictured) which give the area respite from the bustle of Valley St.  It would appear that the developers will build all the way down to Valley St. for the retail spot which would eliminate the greenery.  Ora Manor is immediately to the south (not pictured) and extends to the street., so current zoning shows that the proposal is ‘conforming’, but just because it’s conforming doesn’t mean 22 units are good for the residents of the area.  There are still vacancies in retail on South Orange Ave. and Valley and I believe that an organic style of retail/restaurant resurgence that residents crave will occur where rents are (were) low (Walnut St., Montclair) not where developers will be charging high rents which will most likely only attract boring chain, franchise type retail instead of more appealing, original or mom & pop style shops.

This development will probably be discussed in much more detail at the next planning board meeting in October.  Perhaps the developers can scale down the project to 12 units and leave some of the greenery there.

David Kraiker of Nextdoor Academy Heights made me aware of this particular development and is involved in many Academy Heights area issues.  If you live between Prospect and Valley and between South Orange Ave and Parker, join Academy Heights on Nextdoor.com.

Seton Village Development on Irvington Ave.

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In a public meeting at Temple Beth-El in South Orange, Doug Zacker of the Seton Village Committee (formerly IACAC) and representatives of the town, (CFO Barry Lewis and two members of the BOT, Sheena Collum & Steve Schnall) had the buyers of a property on Irvington Ave. present more details of their proposal.  The buyers were Josh Mann and David Kasdan, two local developers/residents who are hoping to construct a building with rental units and and a small amount of retail space.

As there is a growing buzz about the area after this fall’s Craft Beer and Food Truck festival, interest in a ‘centerpiece building’ on the main corridor is high.  Some of numbers revealed (four stories between 50 and 57 feet and 72 units) were a concern for many of the immediate neighbors.  There were very legitimate questions about parking, storm water runoff, noise and a loss of sunlight for immediately adjacent single family properties.

In my opinion, 3 stories and perhaps about 50-60 units might be a more appropriate fit for the area.  With the right changes and compromises, I hope it could still be economically viable for the developers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Orange Lawn Tennis Property

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The South Orange Planning Board is considering an ordinance to change the zoning code to allow the Orange Lawn Tennis Club at 305 Ridgewood Road to subdivide its property and develop a portion as townhomes.

BNE Real Estate Group is the suitor interested in purchasing a portion of the property and developing it as 27 town homes. The development would take up about one third of the current 16-plus acre site.

A Representative of the club, Peter Shapiro said, “Without the sale, the club cannot survive. The sale will allow the club to extinguish its debt, and put it on a secure financial footing going forward. Without the sale, the club will be forced to close, and to sell off its entire property for development. The choice comes down to this: develop a portion of the property and allow the club to continue as a historic South Orange institution, or close the club and develop the entire property. We would overwhelmingly prefer the first alternative. The interests of the club and of its neighbors are fully aligned in wanting to limit the impact of the development. We are committed to working with the community to do so.”

An online petition against the idea has gathered more than 260 signatures.  Why not invite a builder to construct a few homes that would be more in character with the neighborhood, and retain more nature than a high-density project such as the one proposed?  The area supports homes that regularly fetch between 700k and over a million.

Petition

 


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