MAPLEWOOD, NJ — After many years as a closed business, and having been listed as a site in need of redevelopment, 104 Baker Street is on its way to being part of the Maplewood Village’s active landscape again. Iron Ore Maplewood LLC’s site plan application for a three-story mixed use building was approved at the November 12 meeting of the Planning Board of the Township of Maplewood. 

The site plan for the former Toomey’s mechanic garage and gas station was approved unanimously with only one revision, that the rear facade not be held to the requirement that 75 percent of the materials used for the façade be brick or stone. The rear will be mostly white cedar, to have a more neutral look to the residential neighborhood it faces.

The site plan includes one commercial space on the ground floor, with no steps at the door to Baker Street. Benches and bicycle racks for the public will line the front facade, although this aspect is subject to township committee approval. 

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Eleven rental apartments will be on the second and third floors; nine will have two bedrooms, two will have one bedroom. Community and green space for the renters will adorn the roof. Each unit will have one parking space, which will be behind and underneath the building, hidden from public view.

John James, president of the board of Maplewood Village Alliance, is pleased with the site plan’s approval. “It brings a much younger vibe to the downtown area… which is a big plus for the village,” he said.

The design review committee of Village Alliance met with the developer and architect and gave them input into the design. Approval from Village Alliance was granted at its September board meeting where the design was presented to the public.

James said the developer is “going to build a high quality building…and it will help anchor Baker Street particularly.” He added, "It’s not a typical developer building. I think they added a lot of details to the materials on the facade to make it more interesting.”

James acknowledged that some members of the public were skeptical about a modern design for the structure within the older buildings of the village. He said he hoped that those people will see “you can build a modern building that has texture and details.”