NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The controversy is continuing to grow around a proposed spa that has local officials skeptical as to the nature of the business.
The planning board met Tuesday night to discuss the proposal to turn the former McGrath’s Hardware site into several separate shops. At the planning board’s request, each of the business owners presented details about their stores.
But one, which the owner says will be a spa, left planners feeling uncertain. Operated by Cong Rang Wang, the spa claims to offer facials, and massages ranging from back massages to full body massages. Wang’s "operators" have received certification from New Jersey, but planners are not convinced of the legitimacy of his business, questioning whether it will be a true spa, or a massage parlor.
Wang, who speaks through an interpreter, did not present the same level of detail about his business to the planning board. The only plans show five private massage bays and a shower facility. Planners have said they are frustrated at not getting more specific information about Wang’s plan for his business, saying that the proposal seems a bit shady, and the lack of details only adds to that perception.
After Tuesday’s meeting, the application was rescheduled for a special meeting on Oct. 18 pending the availability of a quorum and a meeting room. Near the end of the presentation the tape machine recording the meeting malfunctioned, and a tape of the hearing is required by law. If the Oct 18 meeting cannot be held, the application resumes on Nov. 1.
The applicant, New Providence Global Realty, LLC, is seeking 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 existing China Fan restaurant to include a dining area. McGrath's relocated in 2010.
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 borough is in the process of approving design standards for the downtown area, and has already approved a new sign ordinance to regulate the style, size and location of signs.
Planners have said the building is an important facility for the borough because it is the most prominent building in the center of the downtown district.