CHATHAM, NJ - Architect Dean Marchetto, a resident of Chatham Borough for 22 years, returned to his former home town on Thursday night to show off his conceptual design for the Post Office Plaza Redevelopment.

The focal point of Marchetto's design for the redevelopment on the 5.5-acre site is "Chatham Mews" a "mixed-use" residential building that rises up to five stories at its tallest point, during a Special Meeting of the Chatham Borough Planning Board and Borough Council.

This was the first of a number of informational meetings held for the public on the conceptual design. No action was taken at the meeting.

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Marchetto introduced himself by saying he had been working on the design with his team of architects and urban planner Topology for the last two years, "However, I've really been working on this project for about 25 years." (see the video below).

Marchetto explains that the public parking for "Chatham Mews" will be enclosed by a facade on the first floor of the building (see video below). Chatham will receive 50 additional parking spaces from the design and residents of the 230-unit rental building will park on the second and third floors of the structure. The entrance to the parking garage is on South Passaic Avenue.

According to planner Annie Hindenlang of Topology, the four-and-five story sections of the building will be placed along the railroad tracks. 

The plan also calls for five three-story townhome rentals on the southern portion of Bowers lane that front the proposed Ogden Street extension, connecting the Post Office Plaza to Hillside Avenue.

The design also includes a retail restaurant/pavilon; an enhanced crosswalk connection to Firehouse Plaza, and Featured Walls that will include sitting areas and separate the back of Main Street buildings from the "Chatham Mews" area.

The meeting was well-attended by the public and most of the people who got up to give their opinion expressed concern about the size of the "Chatham Mews", especially the five-story portions.

Others did not feel the design fit in with Chatham, even though the architects had sought to blend the look to fit in with the Garibaldi Building located at 14 Fairmount Avenue.

Resident Tricia Finley, whose family has lived in the borough since 1950, objected to the "massive" size of the Mews building and stated in the video below that she'd like to see a more "Colonial look" that would better fit Chatham.

Resident Brian Barrett said he was "stunned" by the size of the building and remarked in the video below that he didn't think it fits in with the "openness of Chatham."

Bill Kron, 80, who has lived in Chatham for more than 50 years, described the proposed building as a "fortress" in the video below and said "It just loses the ambiance and character of this place. Over 50 years, Chatham has not changed a lot."

Resident Jack Drew described the plan as "way to grand for Chatham" in the video below.

Resident Rozella Clyde explains why she does not like the idea of the "Feature Walls" in the video below.

The video of the presentation and meeting will be posted on the Chatham Borough website at chathamborough.org. Those wishing to comment on the plans can write to the borough at postofficeplaza@chathamborough.org.