BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Another key piece of the revitalization of downtown Berkeley Heights and Sherman Avenue received unanimous approval from the Planning Board. When the hearing ended, property owner Foun Chung Fan, MD. and his wife, Ling each said they were "very happy," with the outcome.
Experts for The Terrace at Berkeley Heights, the redevelopment project for the former Movie Theatre property at 450 Springfield Ave., presented renderings and floor plans for the project at a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 1. The project looks significantly different than it did when first proposed in spring of 2017, but it’s the same project, with a new architect – Lance Blake, of Rotwein & Blake, Livingston.
The four-story, mixed-use, building will feature 20 rental units, three of which will be affordable housing units. The site is sloped towards Sherman Avenue, and the lowest level will have an enclosed garage with 25 parking spaces, two of which are ADA compliant and adjacent to the elevator, as well as 4,000-square-feet of retail space, utility spaces for the retail uses, a lobby for residents and visitors, and a large terrace which will extend to Sherman Avenue and around the corner on the east-side of the building. An additional 28 parking spaces, including one ADA space, for the building will be directly across from the building, on the other side of Sherman Avenue. The road will have to be realigned, as the easement extends into the property, by the terrace area, said Sean Delaney PE, of Bowman Consulting, during his testimony.
The next three floors will be residential. There will be an entrance to the building on Springfield Avenue and off of Sherman Avenue.
On the second floor, which is level with Springfield Avenue, there will be a fitness center, a club room, and other amenities for residents, including an outdoor area on the east side of the building which residents will be able to use as a terrace. It will have pergolas, a fire pit, furniture, fencing, and landscaping.
On the east side of the second floor, there will be two large terraces. On the third floor, there will be apartments and, on the top floor, referred to as the “penthouse,” level there will only be four units each with a large terrace.
Gennaro Raimo owner of 462 Springfield Ave., asked if the second-floor outdoor area accessed from the building and Springfield Avenue would be open to the public and provide a way to get from Springfield Avenue to Sherman Avenue. It will not be.
During a break in the meeting, Raimo said that seemed to be contrary to the goal of making downtown Berkeley Heights a walkable community. To get back to businesses on Sherman Avenue, people will have to find another route – now they can drive down the existing driveway.
Planning Board Chairman Michael Einbinder noted that the architecture seemed more “related” to the architectural style of the Stratton House which will be built on the site of the former King’s property.
Township Planner Mike Mistretta agreed, “They play off each other ... We thought it was very important they feed off each other … and be related.” The plans for the Stratton House were shared with Rotwein & Blake, he added.
There were some conditions to be met by the applicant, including working with township experts to make sure their comments on review letters are taken into consideration, and the applicant must obtain either a waiver or an affidavit from a nearby property owner who did not receive written notice to the Aug. 1 hearing in a timely fashion. The meeting started late because of this glitch, but Board Attorney William Robertson had confirmed this was not a problem with that property owner before the hearing proceeded.
There were positive comments from all board members before the vote.
The entire meeting can be seen on LiveStream here.