NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Easton Avenue is one step closer to another change.
The New Brunswick Planning Board approved the Boylan Funeral Home’s application to expand its parking lot last night, during the panel’s Jan. 9 meeting.
That will result in the elimination of the funeral home’s 15-space satellite parking lot across the street, enabling the development in its place of a six-story, 44-unit luxury apartment building called Easton Crossings.
Easton Crossings obtained approval for its site plan at 185 Easton Ave. in September, but only on the condition that the Boylan Funeral Home add more parking spaces. Boylan and the developer have agreed to exchange properties to make both projects possible.
“Overall, we believe that the plan itself is really a great improvement,” attorney Thomas Kelso, who represents the applicant, said. “Aside from being able to upgrade a parking lot and expand it, it actually is a significant safety improvement.”
When funeral services get crowded, people will no longer be forced to park in the overflow lot across the bustling main drag, he added. Instead, the new 57-space, fenced-in parking lot should satisfy that need.
The board also granted the funeral home a variance for the parking lot’s setback from a neighboring property.
The expanded lot will result in more asphalt, but the applicant’s engineer said a retooled water-detention system should prevent any potential flooding problems.
An overflow parking lot isn’t the only thing being lost to Easton Crossings. The developer also plans to tear down three buildings off Easton Avenue.
David Adams has a 98 percent stake in the project’s development company, which is also named Easton Crossings, according to zoning board minutes. For 25 years, he has renovated and rented units to Rutgers students.
In September, he said he owned 22 properties in New Brunswick.
But Easton Crossings hopes to reel in another demographic: young professionals who work in the city.
The 12,000-square-foot proposed brick building will include one- and two-bedroom apartments priced at market rates, according to the zoning board minutes. Each unit will contain a washer and dryer and high-end finishing, and the top floor will house a gym for residents, Adams told the board.
The ground floor will contain one rental office and one for the building’s management, according to the minutes.
While city code required 93 parking spaces for Easton Crossings, the site plan was approved with 44 spaces. A majority of those will sit in an underground garage.
A traffic engineer said last year that the building’s residents and office workers wouldn’t have a “significant impact” on traffic. Plus, he added, more than 40 percent of New Brunswick’s residents don’t commute to work alone in their cars.
Easton Crossings was designed to fit in with the city’s goal of becoming a transit village, the applicant’s representatives said.
Some local business owners who attended the initial zoning board hearing testified that, although they were worried about parking in the area, they believed buildings like Easton Crossings best serve the parking needs and feel of the neighborhood.