SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Borough Planning Board approved plans Tuesday night for a five-story apartment building that will be built on the present site of the one-story building where the Social Security office is now located on Davenport Street.
Developer Robert Weiss scaled back his original proposal, which had met with opposition from merchants and residents concerned that the new building’s tenants would expropriate what limited parking space there is in the lot behind stores on West Main Street and adjacent to the Social Security building on Hunterdon Street.
The revised plan for “The Davenport” reduces the number of apartments while increasing the number of parking spaces by adding a second sub-level beneath the building to accommodate cars.
The original plan called for 72 residential units – 12 studio apartments, 48 one-bedroom apartments and 12 two-bedroom apartments.
The revised plan calls for 60 residential units. The studio apartments were eliminated so that the new configuration features 40 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two-bedroom apartments.
There will be 68 parking spaces – 46 on the upper level, or ground floor, and 22 spaces on the sub-level. To satisfy the borough’s ordinance on occupancy and parking, which requires 1.2 spaces per rental unit, Weiss will need to purchase four or five parking permits from the borough.
Architect David Minno of Minno & Wasko Architects & Planners of Lambertville described The Davenport as an “attractive, in-town building.”
Weiss expects the building will attract the so-called Millenials, younger tenants looking for a pleasant place to live with enclosed parking, in a building designed to not look like a townhouse. He described The Davenport as “softened elegance, loaded with a lot of glass.”
A courtyard will be in the center of the building, with vehicular access to the ground floor and sublevel parking through two entrances.
There was some criticism of the building during the public portion of the meeting.
Longtime resident Herbert Hall said the design of the building was “not in keeping with historic Somerville,” while Main Street resident David Conrad suggested the architecture and style of the building was a “mismatch” with the neighborhood.
Borough Councilwoman Jane Kobuta, who is a Planning Board member, suggested a brick façade “Georgetown” look, characteristic of that upscale Virginia suburb of Washington.
Weiss said he expects to begin demolition of the existing structure by spring next year after the Social Security office relocates.
Weiss must now secure a series of building, environmental and other permits and complete preliminary engineering studies before work can begin.