SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The South Orange Development Committee met on Thursday, Sept. 8, to discuss the redevelopment of the old Blockbuster building and other surrounding structures between Taylor Place and South Orange Avenue. The construction would also include the existing parking lot behind those buildings, and the ones facing Scotland Road and South Orange Avenue, which will remain.

Commercial developers Les and Jared Lustbader are currently planning to put the main entrance at the intersection of Vose Avenue and Taylor Avenue. The developer’s proposal would create 130 residential units, as well as space for retail stores on the ground level. On-site enclosed parking was touted as an added benefit of the structure, and it would accommodate both residential and public parking.

Current plans for parking would provide 130 private spaces for residents, and an additional 75 public spaces in a two level garage. The two sections would have separate entrances; the first would have doors for residents only, and the second an open entrance available to the public.

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Dean Marchetto, an architect for the developers, emphasized that the property is specifically designed to be the right scale for the community. A proposed facade on South Orange Avenue is intended to look like multiple buildings, rather than a single, massive structure in the middle of downtown. The building would feature a brick exterior and a walkway leading from South Orange Avenue to an interior courtyard, and then on out to Taylor Avenue. Retail stores would line the walkway at the South Orange Avenue side as well as line in the courtyard. Marchetto also stated the structure would be a focal point for the downtown South Orange area, as well as a link to Spiotta Park, City Hall, public parking and retail stores.

Sheena Collum, South Orange Village President, also noted that other new developments have added very few children to the school population, so that should not be a concern to existing residents. The meeting adjourned with a reminder that it is still very early in the process, and that there are many stages of approvals to complete before a final proposal is made to the Township Trustees and Planning Board for approval.