NEWARK, NJ — A recent proposal for a 12-story residential building in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood was denied.
The location of the proposed 55-unit building was at 117 and 119 Bruen St. on the corner of Elm Street. Approval of the plan would have resulted in the demolition of the existing four-story apartment buildings on the property. The project's architect said the existing units are in "very bad condition."
The Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment denied the application.
"(The plan) has raised some concerns, particularly with the applicant not willing to consider a reduction in the (building's) required size," said Terence Baine, board member. "That concerns me greatly and I cannot be supportive of the application."
The proposal from 117-119 Bruen St. LLC falls outside of the city's MX-3 zone, which now allows taller mixed-use buildings to be constructed closer to Newark Penn Station. Instead, the property falls within the MX-1 zone, resulting in a requested height variance.
During the meeting, Commissioner Katiria Cobian questioned whether the property owner, John Scerbo, would consider lowering the proposed building height to five stories. He would not.
Additional variances in the proposal regarded insufficient parking, building transparency, density and insufficient lot area.
Newark does not require any parking when residential units are built within 1,200 feet of a rail or light rail station. The contention was that the proposed building was located about 300 feet beyond the zero-parking line.
The proposal included seven parking spaces and a room to store bicycles.
Prior to the board's motion for denial, traffic engineer John McCormack said the proposed building was designated as a commuter apartment building, with anticipated residents walking five minutes to Newark Penn Station. He was confident the proposed parking was sufficient.
Commissioners heard 15 objections from Newark residents who each offered multiple testimonies opposing the proposal. Several of the residents were associated with the Ironbound Community Corporation.
"I've lived in Newark for most of my life. I just want you guys to think about us, right? Think about the people who look like you and me," said Christian Rodriguez, Newark resident. "These are the people who live here. Why aren't we developing for the people that look like you and me? Stop developing for the people that don't give a crap about us... at the end of the day, where are we going to live? They keep displacing us and building high rises that we can't afford."
Other parts of the testimony were questions about requested variances, claims of gentrification, parking concerns and frustration toward zoning board members for falling asleep during public testimony.