SOUTH ORANGE — “It’s very exciting.” So said South Orange Village President Sheena Collum during Monday evening’s Board of Trustee meeting at SOPAC. The Village President was referencing the soon to be reality, HUB Realty's South Orange Ave. project; it will redevelop the former Blockbuster site bringing with it a 5-story mixed use project including 12,000 sq. feet of retail and 110 units of housing along with 10,000 sq. feet of commercial space. The development will also include 121 residential parking spaces and a garage that provides 70 public parking spaces.

The project’s final approval is likely set for early March. Construction should commence soon after but Collum warns that preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to 18 months to complete and it is expected to impact traffic in South Orange. Collum did not sugar coat, warning residents that “it will be difficult.” Collum also reminds that South Orange does not own the property and has no say in the businesses that are being forced to leave, an issue that has ruffled feathers in the community. However, the Village President did say that these businesses were first made aware of the proposed development back in 2014, giving them plenty of notice.

Still, for those soon to be displaced businesses who remain unsure of where to go, Collum stresses that Julie Doran, who heads the South Orange Village Alliance is committed to helping them relocate within the community. “People should be planning” Collum emphatically told those assembled.

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More potential future construction, a bond ordinance for first reading was passed for purchase of 45 West Third Street, appropriating $1.5 million. As Collum stated, the Village owns the adjacent property and the two properties combined would be used for affordable housing, up to 40 units. Collum was “pleasantly surprised” to learn that the seller has agreed to pay for property remediation, saying she didn’t see that one coming.

Discussions also continue regarding the much debated development at 270 Irvington Ave. Currently in the early stages of yet another proposal, the latest includes 60 residential units, 12 for affordable housing. Back in 2015, South Orange did reject a proposal that would have included 49 units.