SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - When the South Orange Development Committee met on May 11, there were no presentations by developers, a change from other recent meetings of the Development Committee.

Rob Cole, Chair of the Development Committee, called the meeting to order and at the request of South Orange Village President Sheena Collum, everyone present introduced themselves and their connection or reason for being at the meeting.

The status of the following projects were then discussed:

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MARYLAWN PROPERTY

The Sisters of Charity, who own Marylawn Academy on Scotland Road have been trying to sell the property for several years. Most recently, there was a possible sale to the City of Orange, which is no longer moving forward. The South Orange - Maplewood Board of Education (SOMBOE) have been in negotiations, but no significant process has been made. A Board member of the YMCA stated that there is interest from the YMCA in the property as well. The property when being used as a school had been exempt from taxes, however, since the property has been vacant for several years and is now for sale for development purposes, it is now being taxed but there has been no payments made. The tax matter is currently in court.

If neither the SOMBOE or the YMCA can negotiate a deal for the property, there is the possibility that the property could be taken through eminent domain on behalf of the South Orange - Maplewood school district, which would potentially move their administrative offices to this location.

REDEVELOPMENT OF FORMER BLOCKBUSTER BUILDING

Hub Realty-Lustbader has proposed redevelopment of the former Blockbuster building on the corner of Vose Ave. and South Orange Ave. Hub Realty-Lustbader were sent a final term sheet after the last meeting, but has not officially responded. There have been attempts at some negotiations of what Collum described as "non-negotiables." 

THIRD & VALLEY

The developer has reported that the development is currently 90% occupied.

CHRIS'S TEXAS WEINER BUILDING

The building which has Chris's Texas Weiner Family Restaurant on the ground floor (51 South Orange Ave.) is for sale, and the price has been lowered from $2.4 million to $1.5 million. The assessed value is $700,00, and HUB Realty has stated they are not interested in purchasing the building at the asking pice.

FOURTH & VALLEY

The Fourth & Valley development has been approved with a PILOT of five years. The development, which was originally going to be 330 units, has been reduced to 100 units with 10,000 square feet of retail space in anticipation of a restaurant being located there. This project will be presented to the South Orange Planning Board for approvals once the Village Hall project is completed. The Fourth & Valley development project will also include adding lighted crosswalks and improvements to Founders Park (previously Memorial Park) on Valley Street.

SETON HALL UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

An independent developer has discussed the concept of building housing for Seton Hall University students who wish to live off-campus. The concept has been presented, and the developer has been vetted and received outstanding reviews, according to Collum. Their concept based on similar projects elsewhere is to build the housing, and then have each student sign their own lease, with a parent co-signing. The building would be managed by a company that exclusively manages these types of student housing. Seton Hall University will not guarantee the success, but will assist by adding it to the SHUFLY shuttle service. 

VILLAGE HALL PROJECT

The Village Hall project's appearance before the Planning Board has been postponed to June, and there will probably be two more meetings before approval, followed by the approval of the final plans. Wainco Realty has retained an attorney who has been questioning the developer's experts, which has added time to the approval process.

NEW JERSEY TRANSIT LOT

NJ Transit remains reluctant to sell the parking lot to South Orange Village, and it is most likely there will not be progress on this until after state-wide elections this November.

OPENINGS IN SOUTH ORANGE VILLAGE

Bob Zuckerman, Executive Director of the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) gave a brief update regarding retail. He said the Artistry Salon by Ampy has opened in the Third and Valley building. The Indian restaurant on South Orange Avenue has a new partner, who currently owns Tandoori Flame in Parsippany, and is in process of getting the restaurant re-opened in about six weeks. The former Subway on South Orange Ave. will be occupied by a Metro PCS store.

There is a potential tenant in the early stages of looking for a space in which to open an arcade that would cater to both teens and adults, but has not found the right location yet, said Zuckerman.

A project is also underway to develop a new Master Plan.

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South Orange Development Committee Discusses Former Blockbuster Building and 4th and Valley Projects