MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Planning Board had a relatively short meeting on February 24, with only one application
to consider – an appalciton by the owner of the structure at 182 Glenridge Avenue to expand the
building in the rear, add a third story, and create four new two-bedroom apartments. The appalciton
was continued form the board’s January 27 meeting,
Three of these apartments would be duplexes – that is, each one would occupy two stories – with access
to the apartments from a second-story corridor. The fourth apartment would be at the front of the new
third story and set back from the façade with a terrace overlooking the avenue below. But the
centerpiece of the project would be an arts-and-entertainment space, with three small arts-related
offices and an open gallery on the second floor, which would jibe nicely with the overall plan to turn the
immediate area into an arts district. The two retail spaces at ground level would remain, with the on-
site parking underneath the upper floors of the rear expansion.
Mark Tylek, the owner/applicant, was seeking a variance from the parking requirement of 27 parking
spaces, because only ten spaces are being provided. He explained that the unusual size of the lot and
its long, narrow shape limited his ability to provide more parking, but he and his attorney, Alan
Trembulak, said that the project would benefit the community by providing another arts and
entertainment venue in the area.
Trembulak explained the variance by breaking down the requirements for the building’s mixed-use plan.
He noted that the two spaces required for the retail component already exist, while the four spaces
required for the arts and entertainment would be provided with permit spaces in the new Midtown
parking deck next door, construction of which is scheduled to begin in May. For the residential
component, Trembulak’s explanations grew a little more complicated. He explained that the ten spaces
provided would adequately serve the needs of the residential tenants, noting that, based on census
information for the area, the project’s traffic study has determined that only 1.1 parking spaces per
apartment are needed, which the ten proposed spaces should cover. Trembulak was also quick to point
out that the board had already approved a ratio of 1.1 parking spaces for each of the 200 apartments
approved for the Seymour Street redevelopment project across Bloomfield Avenue on the next block,
the same ratio proposed for the Glenridge Avenue project.
“It would seem to me that a similar conclusion should be made with respect to this project,” Trembulak
said. “We’re providing enough parking for the residential, we’re providing the required parking for the
new arts and entertainment space, and we’re providing the same parking that’s been provided many
years for the same retail spaces.” He added that that the small office space would be provided as part
of the arts and entertainment component, and he said that available mass transit would mitigate the
situation. Tylek, Trembulak added, would supervise and control the parking to make it work.
Trembulak also sought to reassure the Planning Board that the gallery activity at 182 Glenridge Avenue
would not conflict with the activity at the Crosby restaurant across the street, since art galleries tend to
hold early-evening events and the Crosby attracts a later crowd. Chairman John Wynn, however, had his
concerns. He opined that parking has long been an issue that Montclair has had to deal with and that no
one could tell or anticipate what the future would bring as far as parking needs were concerned.
Another issue that came up concerned the front elevation of the building. At the January 27 meeting,
Paul Sionas, the project’s architect, had presented a design for the front façade with a straight-line
parapet at the top shielding the third-floor terrace, but board member Stephen Rooney, who also sits on
the Historic Preservation Commission, suggested a change of the parapet. Sionas responded by
presenting a revised design showing a rounded parapet similar to the one that currently exists atop the
second floor. Tylek and his wife plan to occupy the new third-floor front apartment, and the parapet
along the proposed terrace is meant to ensure privacy.
One member of the public spoke to voice his support for the project – former Montclair mayor and
former Planning Board member Ed Remsen, who now serves as president of Studio Montclair. Though
Remsen said that Studio Montclair does not plan to take up space in this project, he did find it to be a
positive development for Studio Montclair’s members to display their visual art – paintings, sculptures,
etc. – in town. Remsen also noted that the model Tylek came up with for the arts space in his plans for
182 Glenridge Avenue provides a “subsidy” for the arts section, allowing for a small gallery to exist and
giving artists in the region, many of who can’t afford to live in Montclair, more opportunities to display
“In a time when most of our members, many of our members, especially many of the younger artists . . .
can’t afford to live in this town,” Remsen said, “they can, if they’re an artist, be able to show their work
and make their livelihoods in town.”
A few details were ironed out before the Planning Board voted on the application. Board member
Martin Schwartz said that the metal tops on the roof appeared to make the building look cheap, and he
asked if it was possible to use an alternative material, suggesting use of a material that wouldn’t draw so
much attention. Tylek explained that he was going to use copper or zinc, rather than the cheap
aluminum that Schwartz found distasteful. Schwartz said that copper or zinc, which would eventually
develop a graying patina, would be fine.
When it came to reconciling the project with the proposed parking variance, board member Anthony
Ianuale suggested that the arts space could be officially recognized as general commercial use to allow
the variance, given the plans to have arts-related office, but Planning Director Janice Talley said that the
office space was supposed to be arts-related. The board ultimately chose to act on Ianuale’s suggestion
in light of the lack of a mandated number of spaces for art galleries but with the condition that the
commercial space only be used for the arts; the project would have to come back to the board if the arts
space is changed to a greater commercial use in the future. The Planning Board also declared that if any
additional units are approved for this property in the future, then the net increase in the number of
dwelling units shall be based on the current number of units on the site – i.e., the two existing
apartments – to determine the required number of affordable units, per Planning Director Janice
The Planning Board voted 7-0 to approve the application, with Martin Schwartz abstaining because he
had not attended the January 27 meeting when the application hearing began. Second Ward Councilor
Robin Schlager and board members Frederick Cook and Daniel Gilmer were absent.