CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Borough Planning Board, Borough Council and public got to see the preliminary design for the River Road Redevelopment project at a special meeting held on Thursday night. No action was taken at the informational session.
Developer Jonathan Schwartz, a principal of BNE Real Estate Group, was in attendance to present the plan for 240 to 259 luxury apartments that span three lots on River Road, starting at the corner of Watchung Avenue.
Fifteen percent of the apartments will be set aside for low-to-moderate affordable housing. The apartments will be an approximate 50-50 split between one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The one-bedroom units would be between 700 and 800 square feet and the two-bedroom apartment from 1,050 to 1,200 square feet.
"We build all over New Jersey," Schwartz, whose grandfather started the business, said. "Pretty much what we do is build luxury rental housing. Most of what we've owned since 1955, we still own. We're trying to put something together that will look really, really great."
Developer Schwartz introduced himself at the special meeting held Thursday
The single-building design features a three-story building on the corner of River Road and Watchung and a connection to the continuation of the building on River Road, which will be four stories.
All the parking is under the apartment building and Schwartz said he is hopeful that he can bury the power wires underground. There will be 1.8 parking spaces per unit.
Council member Jocelyn Mathiasen asked about the inclusion of retail stores in the building, but Schwartz answered that in his experience retail does not do well in this setting.
Schwartz noted that each apartment will have its own laundry area and that the building is pet-friendly, with a dog washing area on the first floor. The development will include jitney shuttle bus service to and from the Chatham Train Station
Susan Favate, chair of the planning board, gave her input on the design in the video below.
A number of residents in attendance were concerned with the added traffic to an already congested area, especially with a senior facility going up around the corner in Summit.
Vince DeNave, engineer for Chatham Borough, tried to allay some of the fears by residents about traffic, explaining that he is working on a more "global solution" with the Summit engineer and officials from both Morris and Union counties to synchronize the traffic lights (see video below).
Chatham Township resident Stewart Carr questioned the benefits to adding more population to town in the video below.