SOMERVILLE, NJ - Developer Jack Morris has been given approval by the borough's Planning Board for a five-story building that will feature retail space on the ground floor and 45 apartments on the upper four floors.

Two dilapidated buildings on the north side of West Main Street, next to Mannion's Irish Pub and Restaurant, will be demolished before construction can begin.

Morris is the borough's largest landlord. He owns the Brookside Garden Apartment complex on Mercer Street, a cluster of 642 units in two-story buildings on Mercer Street, and The Edge luxury apartments on West Main Street.

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He also has approvals for Stage II of the Edge, a five-story luxury building on the south side of West Main Street that will mirror the existing building, which features Wolfgang's Steakhouse and Starbuck's on the ground floor along with other retail stores.

Colin Driver, the borough's director of Economic Development, expects crews will be working on both buildings on either side of Main Street simultaneously.

The new Phase II complex, across the street from Mannion's  will be bordered by West Main Street, South Davenport Street, Veterans Memorial Drive West and South Doughty Street. The complex will include a second, three-story building that will feature a 40,000-square foot gym and fitness center connected by a foot bridge to the main structure.  It will be built alongside the main structure.

Phase II features 153 apartments, of which more than half – 58 percent – will be one-bedroom, according to Ron Aulenbach, director of Engineering and Planning for Morris, owner of Edgewood Properties. There will be 13 three-bedroom apartments; the balance will be two-bedroom apartments.

The ground floor will feature 34,000 square feet of retail space; the upper four floors will be residential.

Phase II will include several amenities, including a 20,000 square foot all-weather food court that will front on Davenport Street; a 40,000 square foot gym and wellness center; and a pool and bar on the top floor.

The façade facing South Doughty Street will be designed to imitate early 20th-century brownstone buildings, according to Driver.

 The parking deck will feature 520 spaces, with 291 spaces exclusive to the tenants of both buildings; the remaining 229 spaces will be available for public parking, helping to alleviate the shortage of parking in the downtown district. The borough’s Parking Utility will manage the public parking, according to Driver.

The deck will include dedicated parking for the tenants of the 45-unit building across the street.

Entry for residents will be off South Doughty Street; public access to the parking deck will be off of South Davenport Street, according to Aulenbach. A portion of the deck will be below grade.

The developer also plans to create a temporary parking lot at the northeast corner of the property to accommodate cars from tenants in the first building that now park in an area that will be disrupted by construction of Phase II, according to Aulenbach.

The developer will have to relocate existing underground utility lines before construction can begin on Phase II. The first phase of construction will be on the 3-story parking deck, with one level below ground, the second at ground level and the third level actually on the second floor of the complex.

Edgemere Properties, owned by Morris has dozens of luxury apartment complexes and shopping centers in several states; he is also co-owner of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.