NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The planning board will hold a special hearing tonight on businesses proposed for of the vacant storefronts in the former McGrath’s Hardware building.

The store has been divided into smaller spaces. The two businesses currently being considered are an Italian restaurant and a spa.

The spa application is very similar to a proposal voted down by the planning board in October when planners could not get what they felt were satisfactory answers from the applicant, Cong Rang Wang.

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Earlier this month, Realtor Jeff Katz of Jeffrey Realty, who brought Wang before the planning board, brought another applicant, Donho Li, who proposed the same sort of spa. Planners did not vote on the application at that meeting.

Both proposals were for a spa with a sauna, shower, lockers, and three massage rooms. During the October hearings, planners expressed frustration at trying to communicate with Wang, who did not speak English except through an interpreter. Planners said they felt Wang’s answers about the nature of his business were unclear, as were his responses about his licensed status as a massage therapist. Planners also expressed concern that the name of the business on the application and the name of the business on blueprints submitted to the board for review were different.

During Li’s appearance before the planning board on July 10, she explained that customers would have the option of a 1/2 to one-hour massage and use of the sauna and shower. Li said she would serve customers with appointments and walk-ins. The woman said she is an experienced massage therapist and plans to hire another person on her staff to do massages and have a business manager on premises.

It is unclear whether there is any connection between the two applicants. Calls to Jeffrey Realty seeking clarification were not immediately returned.

Tonight’s special hearing begins at 8 p.m. at the Municipal Center.