WESTFIELD, NJ – The town’s planning board recently granted site plan approval to demolish the existing building at 411 North Avenue West, where The Office Bar and Grill is currently located, and construct a new three-story mixed-use building in its place. Prior to The Office, the beloved Jolly Trolley pub occupied the space for more than 40 years.
The planned building would consist of 1,200 square feet dedicated to retail and personal services on the first floor, while a total of 20 luxury one- and two-bedroom apartments would occupy the second and third floors. Thirty-three ground-level parking spaces under the structure are also included in the plans.
Attorney Stephen Hehl of Hehl & Hehl in Union represented the building’s owner at the Board of Adjustment’s special meeting last month. Hehl told board members that the current building, which houses six apartments above the restaurant, is “essentially obsolete” and has “deteriorated” over time.
Hehl likened the concept to a transit village due to its close proximity to the Westfield train station and said that the owner “looks[s] forward to significant redevelopment of that area with what is an extremely attractive and useful building.”
The plan’s applicant and owner of the space, Westfield Office Property, LLC of Morristown, did not return calls for comment.
Site engineer Brett Skapinetz also testified about plans for the new building, including a proposal to shift the entrance to the driveway being to the east. Skapinetz told board members that the Department of Transportation was notified to the change. The DOT replied with two letters of no interest.
“We are proposing some signage with respect to this building,” he said.
The owner sought a variance with regard to the mounting height of the sign to allow for 13.5 feet instead of 12 feet.
“But the size of the sign complies at 37.5 square feet,” said Skapinetz.
No on-site loading space is proposed. However, a shoulder in front of the building will be utilized for deliveries and scheduled move-ins, according to notes from that meeting. No fencing is proposed, but landscaping is planned for the southeast corner, with possible use of riverstone for maintenance. The exterior of the building will consist of brick and Hardie plank siding.
The owners received a variance for the number of parking spaces required, which, at 86, was deemed unnecessary.
At that meeting Sherry Cronin, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation, said the DWC design committee was in favor of the plans.
Later in the meeting, board members pointed to the need to protect the firehouse next door during construction and added that the proposed apartments may fill a need for downsizing among residents. Cars entering and exiting the parking area may result in some concerns for safety.
Looking ahead, the planning board is expected to hear about a proposed 7-Eleven store at 800 Central Ave. and an apartment building on West Broad Street and Rahway Avenue at its Nov. 2 meeting.