SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Village officials joined together with Jonathan Rose, the developer of the forthcoming project at the corner of Third Street and Valley Street, to celebrate the start of the construction process.
“This is already a vital community,” Rose said to those in attendance at the event. “I can’t imagine a more archetypically perfect site.” Rose recalled the history leading up this moment, from the Village’s downtown vision plan in 2008, through the RFP process.
“The work that we’re doing is to carry out the vision that the town had for the site,” he said. “They wanted to see retail on the corner, a mix of market rate and affordable housing, to put commuter parking into a structured garage, all of those key elements of the project were really part of the project before we got here.”
Rose said that his team took inspiration from the South Mountain Reservation in designing the building and the landscaping. The structure will feature “blue roofs,” which capture rainwater and release it slowly to aid the sewer system, and “green roofs,” which have planted surfaces. Other green features will include high efficiency lighting and plumbing, and hookups for solar panels.
Village President Alex Torpey said the project will help to stabilize Village finances by creating commercial ratables where none exist today. He added that, “This underutilized space will become the future home for 250 to 300 new people that are going to be able to live in our community. Those are people that are gong to be able to go down to the performing arts center. They are going to be able to walk to the farmer’s market and the concerts in the spring and the summer. They’re going to support our local merchants. And they’re hopefully going to start families in this community and stay here.”
Village Administrator Barry Lewis said, “This project is another important step in the renaissance of South Orange and is a testament to the foresight of Village leaders, both past and present.” He went to add, “In my two years as Village Administrator, I can’t help but be impressed with the progress, the growth and the momentum building in South Orange.”
The parking deck portion of the mixed-use project will add 255 public parking spaces, a large increase over the parking lot at that location that was recently closed. Whether the property will become a part of the Village Center special improvement district, and how the increased traffic on Third Street will be managed are questions that remain to be answered.