Planning Board Considering Proposal to Turn Former McGrath's Building Into Four Shops

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NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – A plan to transform the former McGrath's Hardware building into four shops will be taken up again next Tuesday to give the borough planning board a chance to hear details about  each new shop.

The applicant, New Providence Global Realty, LLC, on Tuesday sought permission to convert the former McGrath's site and other empty space at the corner of Springfield Avenue and South Street into a salon/spa, a bagel deli, a frozen yogurt shop and to enlarge the exiting China Fan restaurant to include a dining area.

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Changes to the building would include new signs and a facade, a display window on South Street in the yogurt shop, and an interior hallway to allow customers to enter from the Village Shopping Center, the location of the parking area. The new shops would be carved out of existing space.

The planning board sought details about each of the new shops, but when the applicant's attorney, John J. Delaney, said that each tenant had hired their own architects who were not present Tuesday, the board agreed to continue the public hearing on the application to its Oct. 11 meeting.

Board chairman Robert Lesnewich said the board's practice is to ask questions about the use and operation of a new facility to determine how those factors might affect others, like parking and safety, for example.

The board said it would want to review how the redeveloped site plans to meet the borough's new sign and facade ordinance and the site's parking plan.

Earlier in the meeting, Borough Engineeer Andrew Hipolit raised the subject of the ongoing discussions with the owners of the Village Shopping Center and another property owner about plans to redesign part of the combined parking lot to increase ease of entrance and exit, and safety.

He said the proposed changes could impact the parking area associated with the applicant's building.

Robert Engel, property manager for the applicant, said he would agree to work with the other property owners to address the parking lot issues.

Engel said he had been property manager of the site for the past 13 years, and a new owner since 2007 indicated he would cooperate to solve common issues.

McGrath's left the building in 2010, Engel said.  The space is irregular in shape, but the changes are allowed in the area's zoning.

"We believe this will be a good addition to the community," he said.

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