NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A long-open grassy lot next to a single-family home will now become the site of a 12-unit apartment building on busy Livingston Avenue.

The city zoning board has approved plans for construction of a three-story apartment building at 405-409 Livingston Avenue located between May and and Loretto streets.

Property owner Gilberto Mercado, of Franklin Township, plans to build four units on each floor, including 10 apartments with two bedrooms and two apartments that would will be single-bedroom units.

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This is an “L”-shaped lot with access fronting on May Street.

Mercado plans to build a driveway entrance on May Street leading to a parking lot with 17 spaces behind the apartment building that would face Livingston Avenue, which is a main thoroughfare in the city.

That parking lot has seven spaces less than the 24 required under the city zoning ordinance. Planners testified before the zoning that there would be sufficient parking on the street for other cars.

Two city residents argued that there is already a shortage of street parking in the area.

The property is zoned for a mix use of residential and offices and apartments are not permitted.

Zoning board members approved a use variance to allow construction of a rental units. City officials noted  the neighborhood has multi-family housing near this vacant lot.

According to the plans, the three-story structure will be just over 41 feet high,  slightly more than a foot above the permitted 40-foot height permitted in the city zoning code.