Education

South Orange Development Committee Discusses Proposed Seton Hall Housing on Valley Street

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SHUFLY ROUTE
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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - At the Development Committee Meeting on Thursday, April 20, developers presented a plan for Seton Hall University student housing on Valley Street in South Orange.

Two development companies, Stolar Capital and Vertical Realty Capital, currently have a provisional contract to purchase the property at 164-168 Valley Street, which is now occupied by All Star Motors.

The developers are proposing student housing for Seton Hall University, stating that Seton Hall does not have enough on-site student housing, and that students now rent single-family homes and have groups of students live in the houses, which sometimes is disruptive to the neighborhood.

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The developers also mentioned that while many students are interested in living in off-campus housing, Seton Hall University has not indicated an interest in building housing off-campus, or in making a financial investment or providing a guarantee on new structures. The developers argued it will be a benefit to the Township if a private developer builds housing, which will provide additional property tax revenue to the town.

Other benefits outlined by the developers included: elimination of overcrowding for students, overall improvement to Valley Street, as it eliminates another auto business, additional retail presence, providing help to Seton Hall by providing housing that is "up to the level" of other university's housing, bringing more student life to downtown South Orange and the Valley Street corridor, and providing students with NYC train access. Also noted, was that this housing will not impact the public schools.

The developers propose to build a five-story structure consisting of 60 suites, which would range from two to four bedrooms per unit. The units would be rented completely furnished at comparable cost to other Seton Hall housing. Each suite would accommodate four tenants, with two bathrooms per suite. Each student would sign an individual lease, guaranteed by their parent/guardian. The buildings would have an on-site daytime manager, and a security cycle during the evenings. Buildings would be managed by a company that exclusively manages student housing.

The developers are hopeful that they will be able to reach an agreement with Seton Hall for the SHUFLY shuttle service to add this location to its route, and to make "Pirate's Gold," useable in the retail store that is planned for the site.

Committee members and area residents made numerous comments, which were mostly positive, and South Orange Village President Sheena Collum stated that the developers have already been vetted.

The developers showed photographs of typical floor plans, amenities, and examples of similar student housing buildings at Syracuse University and Drexel University.

The Development Committee discussed next steps for the project, which included creating a working committee consisting of members of the Development Committee and neighborhood residents to vet some facts and to prepare for a deeper discussion at the next Development Committee meeting.

Residents were mostly positive in their comments; however, they stated that they wanted to hear more details about the project, and to confirm that comparisons to similar projects were accurate, as well as to determine that proper controls will be in place to assure the are no behavior and noise issues.

The developers have proposed a 60-unit building, an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated 16 units.

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