Maplewood Residents Express Concerns at Open Forum with Post Office Site Developers


MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The Township hosted an information session with the designated developers of the downtown Post Office site in an effort to inform the public about the progress made on the project and to solicit feedback.

Mayor Victor DeLuca kicked things off with a recap of the events that have led up to this point.  The Township Committee had decided fifteen years ago that the property could be put to a higher and better use than as a post office, and chose to not continue the lease of the post office building, which was set to expire in November 2013.  From 2011 through 2013, the Township held various public meetings to gain resident and merchant feedback and hired the planning firm Phillips Preiss Grygiel, as well as a team of students from Columbia University, to explore potential uses for the property.

In February of 2013, a plan was written outlining the parameters the Township wanted to see in the project.  After more public input, the plan was approved in July of 2013, and the Township solicited Requests for Qualifications to find out which developers might be interested in acquiring the property and developing it.

Sign Up for E-News

They received packages from eight developers and chose three of those to submit proposals.

There had been much public criticism of the Committee for not allowing residents and merchants to review the proposals prior to choosing the developer, L&M Development Partners.

“One thing I want to stress is that this is not a final product,” said DeLuca.  “Anything you see here is still going to go through a lot more discussion with the stakeholders. Every time we have a meeting, we get better ideas than what we have already.  There is going to be pushing and pulling of various aspects.” 

He noted that parking and the look of the building, construction details and more are still in the process of being decided.  The Maplewood Village Alliance Design Committee will be involved in crafting hr final designs, and it will be a number of months before anything is ready to go before the Planning Board.

Jonathan Cortell of L&M Development Partners presented the initial design concepts which he admitted are already in the process of being changed based on feedback from local merchants and residents.

“I am a Maplewood resident,” Cortell said.  “I work for a development company which has at its disposal contacts and resources who can collaborate with us in assuring that what we do here on this site is preserve and extend the greatness of Maplewood.”

The plans as described would place a 10,000 square foot Kings Supermarket in the lower level, which would be sub-grade on the uphill side of the sloped property and at grade level on the downhill side, near Village Coffee.  Above that would be a floor of retail spaces, possibly divided between three retailers (to be determined later) at sidewalk level.  Above that would be three stories of rental apartments, comprised of one and two bedroom apartments. 

A key element to the design is a thoroughfare behind the building that would allow cars and pedestrians to travel all the way from Baker Street to Ricalton Square.

As described, the plan would bring a net gain of 27 parking spaces to the site.  Residents of the apartments would be granted overnight parking permits for the site, but would have to move their cars elsewhere during the day (except on Sundays).  Additionally, employees of the businesses in the building will not be allowed to park onsite, but will have permits for designated parking elsewhere.

The issue of the disruption of village life, traffic and parking during demolition and construction was addressed.  Bill Balter of Wilder Balter Partners explained that the demolition should take less than one month, and the rare moments of traffic disruption will take lace only when trucks enter and leave the site with the debris.  He estimated the construction phase to last about ten months, and expected the impact to village life to be minimal, since the design of the site will allow all staging to take place behind the structure.

A question and answer session followed the presentation.  One issue raised was the loading dock situation for a larger supermarket.  It was explained that the dock would be behind the building, and that during the delivery window of hours (which would be limited) some parking would be obstructed.

“We will be able to make things dramatically better than they are now, but it won’t have everything on their (Kings) wish list,” Balter said.  He noted that the current store requires trucks to park on Maplewood Avenue, a situation that creates problems with traffic.  That will no longer be the case.

One resident asked if the train platform could be opened to Ricalton Square to allow commuters to exit trains directly to the site without using tunnels.  Cortell said they will be talking to New Jersey Transit about what changes and options might be considered.

Dave Helmkamp of Engage Maplewood noted that the drawings did not seem to include the full 10,000 square feet of retail space and 5,000 feet of back-of-house space Kings has indicated it wants, and asked it the first floor retail spaces would have to be encroached upon.  No firm answer was given, but it was said that many creative options will be considered to achieve the desired results for all.

A concern was raised about the choice of design elements and building materials, which was not entirely in keeping with the character of the rest of the village.

“It is important to us to weave this building into the fabric of the village,” Richard Metsky of architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle said.  They promised to bring cohesive design elements into the project as it progresses.

Another major concern is the scale of the building, with some feeling that it is simply too large for its surroundings.  Cortell said that the plans were drawn using the parameters set forth in the Township’s proposal guidelines.  The same objection had been raised during the public meetings when that plan was being finalized.

A resident asked what would become f the current Kings space if and when they move across the street.  DeLuca indicated that Kings would have about 15 years remaining on its lease of that space and it would be up to them to find a replacement to sublease the space.

When asked what impact the 25 residential units would have on the already overcrowded school system, it was estimated that the building would house five children of which two would probably be school age.

One resident asked why not put underground parking beneath the building.  First the issues of time and expense were raised, but then civil engineer Jack Ingles brought up concerns about digging so deep that close to the train tracks and to Maplewood Avenue and thought there were too many negative possibilities.  DeLuca raised the possibility of a parking deck somewhere in the village in the future to address the need for more, since it appears that this project will not solve the village’s parking shortage.

Local resident Inda Sechzer asked why the building had 25 residential units and a fifth level that put it out of scale with the rest of the avenue, and suggested that a building one story lower with fewer units would be more appropriate for the neighborhood.  Again, the developers stated that they were simply following the allowable guidelines from the town’s RFP, but did say that with the building’s upper floor setbacks, its mass should appear more acceptable.

Regarding the state mandate regarding affordable housing, it was stated that the building would follow the state guideline of 10% of the units being affordable, which in the end will be two or three of the units.

A video of the meeting may be viewed here:





TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Columbia High School Principal's Removal Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The last Twitter post from Columbia High School principal Elizabeth Aaron is very telling. 

The four-year CHS schools chief, who was recently, surprisingly, reassigned to a vague “Principal on Special Assignment” post by the school district, was a Twitter regular on her @CougarPrincipal account. There she would often promote the school’s successes and notable staff and ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.



Maplewood Police Blotter - Stolen Vehicle in Maplewood Recovered by South Orange Police

July 18, 2018

July 11 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime during the early morning hours, a vehicle was stolen from a residence on the 400 block of Richmond Ave. The vehicle was recovered by the South Orange Police Department the same morning.

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Robberies Reported on July 5

July 2 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime over the previous two days, a U-Haul truck was stolen from a business on Newark Way.

July 4 - Theft from Auto; During the overnight hours an unsecured vehicle parked on Elberta Rd was entered and keys were stolen from it.

July 5 - Robberies; At approximately 1:30 a.m., a male was assaulted by two males ridding bicycles while he was walking on ...

Free 'Movies in the Park' on July 18 and August 23 in Maplewood

July 16, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Free "Movies in the Park" are planned for Wednesday, July 18, and Thursday, August 23, a program hosted by the Maplewood Police Department in conjunction with the Maplewood Recreation Department, the Maplewood Office of Cultural Affairs, SOMA Film Festival and SOMA Municipal Alliance.

The movie on July 18 will be The Incredibles, shown in Dehart Park, ...

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory Through 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17

NEW YORK, NY, - The National Weather Service issued a 'Heat Advisory' this morning for Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. The heat advisory will remain in effect from noon Monday July 16, until 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17.

Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at- risk population who cannot stay cool. The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, July 26, 6:00 PM

River Barge Park & Marina, Carlstadt

Meadowlands Discovery Sunset Eco-Cruise

Green Travel

Fri, July 27, 6:30 PM

Calloway's Restaurant & Bar, Staffordville

Family Promise SOC Fundraiser at Calloway's

Food & Drink Giving Back


Fri, July 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Fri, July 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Statement From Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron

July 10, 2018


We created a movement. We leveraged our collective 1,600 voices and forced the District leadership to sit with us today [Monday] and discuss the poorly communicated, weekend announcement that CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron was being reassigned.

Our meeting was a first step in both accountability and transparency as Dr. Ficarra revealed Principal ...

Coalition on Race Responds to Changes in School District Administrators

The Board of Trustees of the Community Coalition on Race seeks racial equity, integration, and excellence in education for all students in our schools. While the pace of change has been frustratingly slow, we have seen some progress. Yet, candidly, there are too many students of color who are not well served in SOMA, who still experience segregated classrooms and who still suffer from racial ...

Those Boarded-Up Homes in the West Ward? Newark Has a Plan for Them.

July 19, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - The city is using the power of eminent domain to reduce the number of condemned homes and vacant lots scattered throughout the West Ward.

The redevelopment plan for the West Ward was introduced in 2016 and encompasses properties from the border of Irvington to South 13th Street between South Orange Avenue and 16th Avenue. One of the main goals of the plan is to support new ...

Lawmakers Denounce SCOTUS Nomination at Essex County Courthouse

NEWARK, NJ - State Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin said it was important to support local women’s health organizations at a state level should President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee be approved.

The assemblywoman joined state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, congressional leaders and women's rights groups yesterday at the steps of the Essex County Courthouse ...

Rutgers Hikes Tuition, Student Fees for 2018-2019 Academic Year

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a 2.3 percent hike in tuition and fees, as well as increases for dorm rooms and meals, for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The increase now brings the annual cost for undergraduate students to $14,975, which is $337 more than this past school year.

Student housing will increase 1.9 percent, and ...

NJ Residents Take Action Against White Supremacist Fliers Found Around Bridgewater, Bedminster, Other Local Areas

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...

Woolley Home Solutions Building Has Unique Historical Stained Glass Window

July 21, 2018

Have you ever spotted this Stained Glass Window on our building? It's compliments of the first Methodist Church in town. The repairman saw our 1924 Autocar Truck parked outside and created this beautiful piece and installed it in our front window. The church was knocked down years ago and its location is now Walgreen's parking lot.

The church was originally built in 1836 when Maplewood ...

New Plumber Joins the Woolley Home Solutions Team

We are excited to announce a new addition to the Woolley team! Our new plumber, Oscar Buonafina, is an expert plumber with nearly a decade of industry experience serving New Jersey homeowners. He is also a NJ Master Plumber Since 2007. As a military veteran, Oscar truly understands hard work and commitment, and we’re so happy to bring him on board!

"I believe in service to people ...

Maplewood Brings Local Youth to the Governing Table With the Youth Advisory Committee

The Maplewood Township Committee cordially invites diverse student residents of Maplewood who are enrolled in private or public school in grades 8 through 12 to apply to serve on its new Youth Advisory Committee.  In order to continue empowering local youth whose recent advocacy on - gun safety, safe schools, voting rights, immigration, greater institutional equity and inclusion, to name a ...