SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Township Planning Board voted on Monday night to approve the application presented by Third and Valley Urban Renewal LLC for their preliminary and final site plan for the proposed development on the site of a mixed use residential and commercial structure.
The project, by Jonathan Rose Companies, will be built on the site of the current Rescue Squad building and commuter parking lot, and will include retail space on the first floor, 215 apartment units above that, and a parking deck with 521 spaces, of which roughly half will be used by the public, replacing the 183 current commuter spaces.
Debate prior to the vote included a discussion about traffic flow on both Third Street and Valley Street, and the impact the new building and parking deck will have on car volume. The traffic light at the intersection of Third and Valley will need to be re-timed, and the possibility of proposing a left-turn arrow for northbound drivers on Valley was discussed. As a county road, the decision to alter the traffic flow there will be in the hands of Essex County officials.
Building aesthetics were discussed, with drawings and sample building materials presented by the applicants. The primary designer of the project said the materials and color scheme were chosen to echo the look and feel of the nearby South Orange Fire Station, a favorite and iconic structure in town.
A lively discussion was had regarding the proposed use of the retail units and some live-work units incorporated into the plan. Board member Michael Miller expressed his concern that the live-work units should not be allowed to have retail stores, but be limited to office-type businesses, primarily due to the limited shopper parking that will be available. It was decided that the Board of Trustees should work to define the allowable business types, and the developer agreed to abide by that decision.
After the decision was made, Paul Freitag, managing director of Rose Development, said, “We are thrilled that this has passed and we are very excited about doing this new development in South Orange.”
Board member and Trustee Mark Rosner said, “I think it’s good for the town and a great project.”
That sentiment was echoed by Village President Alex Torpey, who said, “I am so excited that we are moving forward with this project. This is a huge component of our vision for redeveloping the downtown. It takes a while to do these kinds of things but I’m very happy we’re moving forward.”
While open to the public, only two residents were present to ask questions and raise concerns, but neither expressed any opposition to the development.