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Maplewood Releases Post Office Site Rendering

L&M shares its vision for the proposed post office site redevelopment.

L&M Development Partners Site Rendering.
L&M Development Partners Site Rendering.

The Township of Maplewood has revealed a rendering of the Post Office Site, located at 160 Maplewood Ave.

The Maplewood Township Committee unanimously voted to enter an escrow agreement with L&M Development Partners of Larchmont, NY, after narrowing the selection down from eight developers.

“We need to take this step so we can get to the next phase, which will include a lot more input, we can make more stuff public now, and we can have a more focused and detailed conversation to get this to a project we can all agree on,” said De Luca.

The Township made good on his word to make more information public by releasing a rendering of the proposed site, prepared by L&M.

The preliminary layout includes street level retail space suitable for Kings Supermarket, currently located across Maplewood Ave., a ground floor level of retail spaces, and 25 apartments above. The US Postal Service is considering 1830 Springfield Avenue as a possible property for relocation, the township previously stated on its website.

“As the preferred developer, L&M and the Township will negotiate financial and site details,” the Township posted on its website. “The developer must work with the Village Alliance on the design features of the building. Additionally, L&M and Kings will need to negotiate a mutually agreeable lease.”

snow man January 15, 2014 at 12:29 AM
I didn't realize there would be a four-lane-wide, traffic-free plaza in front of the site. And it's great to see that the old-fashioned buildings with their scrollwork and curious details on the north side of the street will be mirrored by the same bland plastic architectural details that makes malls such pleasant places. It looks like someone airlifted a soulless piece of Summit and dumped it into Maplewood.
Jerry Soffer January 15, 2014 at 04:02 PM
I don't think there is a traffic free plaza where Maplewood Ave is now. I see cars parked in front of King's current location, though they've been made inconspicuous. This must have been calculated, because the parking spaces adjacent to the Post Office's current location have been eliminated. That means that parking will be at an even greater premium, with all the new apartments added to the site, yet they've eliminated parking spaces that are currently available! They either haven't thought this through, or they plan to turn Maplewood Center into South Orange, a town that nickel-and-dimes people over parking an a hostile, if not predatory manner. We won't be able to shop at the new Kings, because we won't be able to park anywhere, and I'll damn sure not patronized any of the other businesses they put there. THIS IS A TERRIBLE PLAN, and will ruing the things that make Maplewood Center Special.
Puddyknife January 15, 2014 at 04:25 PM
It will apparently be about two stories higher than the village coffee co from my understanding, and technically there will be even less parking after it is open because it takes spaces away that are there , as well as the need for the parking for the rental apartments. So there will be 25 spaces for the apartments if each one gets one spot... So considering its difficult to get a spot now I am dreading it after this is done. Unfortunately those in power have lost sight of why people move to Maplewood in the first place... Honestly it would be cheaper to live elsewhere and without the appeal of current Maplewood I don't see why someone would rent here at that price (assuming it's in the 1500-2500 range like other lux apts) unless it was short term until they could close on a house...
Winky January 15, 2014 at 04:33 PM
We do not all agree that the PO is ugly - it is certainly worn out and in need of alteration. Here is what I understand at this opoint - Kings will be in the basement, accessed from the south side and the rear. Your confusion is because you cannot see that here. On the Village Coffee shop side there will be 5, yes 5 stories as proposed rightnow. If you all do not think this is good for Mplwd, that it is over-scaled and not contextual/doesn't fit in with our village, make your voice heard. It is not too late - a contract witht eh developer has nt been signed and the commencement of construciton is many many months away. Contact the TC officials and go to Engage Maplewood and sign a petition and write your comments. The contact info for the TC officials is on the Engage Maplewood web page (http://engage-maplewood.org/) and the township website. And by the way, the developers did not initiate this, the Township Committee did. They think this is a terrific idea.
CJV January 15, 2014 at 05:46 PM
Vic set the bar so low with Station House that almost anything here will be an upgrade.
Jen_S January 15, 2014 at 06:25 PM
I think it looks great and I cannot wait until this drawing is a reality. As a real estate professional in the development business, a rendering is just a rendering and you can't be too literal about the width of the road (otherwise - how could they show the building accurately?) ... the drawing has the perspective it needs. I would take this over the eyesore of the old Post Office in a moment and I can't wait to see what an improvement this is over what is there now. I agree that living through the construction won't be fun for any of us - but the end result is worth it. I also think this has more character than many of the other existing buildings in town (which may be quaint but, let's face it - they are kind of ugly and charmless) - huge improvement, bring it on!
Winky January 15, 2014 at 06:49 PM
Some do not think the PO is an eyesore, just tired and in dire need of alteration. There are some positives to this rendering but it is so over-scaled for the Village. Most of the village is 2 story with a few scattered 3 story buildings. This will be 5 stories on the downhill side and 165' feet or so wide along Mplwd Ave.
snow man January 15, 2014 at 06:59 PM
Jerry, Jen: you mistake my sarcasm. By pushing the pov back, the artist made the building look less like the behemoth it will be. Five stories? You'll be able to see it from beyond Prospect Street. To use a poetic allusion, it will be jar in Tennessee. And there's no parking as it is. I think you're on to something Jerry re South Orange, which I will not go to on any day except Sunday, when parking is free; same with Millburn. Of course, I'd bet the Woman's Club is torn down at the same time and parking garage put up.
Puddyknife January 15, 2014 at 07:05 PM
@jen_s as a developer this is a grand idea however as a RESIDENT, this takes away from the reason most choose to live in Maplewood. If I wanted large apt buildings and larger developments i would live in Summit. It essential takes away a large residential selling point. I agree the post office building itself could use a overhaul, but a 5 story sprawling development that will cause even more parking problems, congestion and be an eyesore... Yeah no thanks. Take from example the Station House... That large monstrosity was supposed to be condos to buy... But now they are STILL trying to rent some of the apts... Which incidentally don't look like solid construction seeing as I can hear the residents TVs sometimes when I walk by...
tomturvey January 19, 2014 at 01:18 PM
Vic bought the Women's Club to extend parking purposely because he knew the town needed more with this building...I think it looks great, and the rentals will bring additional consumer traffic and money to keep our local businesses downtown humming (which keeps our rateables up, which keeps your taxes level)...good job, Township Committee! Haters gonna hate.
H Harvey January 21, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Tomt, so interesting that you said Vic bought the Women's Club because that's exactly what seems to be happening. Our Township Committee are representatives for the people in the town. Many people have varying ideas about what should be built or even stay at the Post Office location yet our Township did not give anyone a chance to weigh in and just allowed us to "help" Kings move across the street and believes we need to set a maximum capacity of apartments on top to make it attractive to potential developers, not the residents or potential residents. Our tucked away village is special and unique for varying reasons, one of them being we have a small grocery store and a post office for that matter. We do not have the roads nor the business capacity nor the population of Summit, Montclair or even Millburn and yet the powers that be are obviously trying to make us into one. People from those towns are still discovering Maplewood and coming here and even moving here. Yes, building a business here is a slow process because we are off the beaten path but I believe if you offer the right product, they will come - and they have. People envy our village as it is. I believe, like the Stationhouse, after a building like the one drawn is erected people will be saying "I remember" and "What a shame". Envision a 2014 rendering of the existing Post Office, scaled down and enhanced with great natural light/windows, turned into a general store, with some outdoor equipment & apparel, a small post office window and maybe even a small selection of homeopathic remedies, with an outdoor plaza, plenty of bike racks, a clean entry into the train tunnel and the existing parking plus some extra spots from the old Post Office loading area. We didn't even get a chance to use our imaginations about what a real addition and destination that piece of property could be. Nobody is hating, quite the opposite, I'm wishing for crazy success! Now I feel - What a shame!
H Harvey January 21, 2014 at 05:23 PM
Just wondering what do people vision going into the Post Office spot? Really, if it could be anything, what do you think would enhance the Village, help the existing businesses, alleviate some of the parking dilemma and just be a win win win for all the residents, the existing businesses and the township?
Alexandra Birnbaum January 22, 2014 at 06:35 PM
@tomturvey - Did you write "Vic bought the Women's Club...? Oh no I thought the township bought it. So in order to have 25 residents park in town right next to the new building while they commute into the city, we will ask Kings shoppers to walk to the Women's Club parking with their heavy grocery bags... does that make sense? And, it's not about "haters gonna hate" - it's about openness and discussion and appropriateness and context and scale.
H Harvey January 22, 2014 at 07:55 PM
If Kings wants to expand, that means they'll want to sell more stuff, meaning more use of carts. Navigating a cart to the Women's Club is quite tricky. The sidewalks are slanted and getting up and down even the driveway pads is difficult. It's also difficult to get past the diners outside the Trattoria with a cart or going down near the bank and crossing over can be dangerous. The whole direct pathway to the Women's Club lot would need to be improved as well as the lot itself, including additional crosswalks. I wonder if parents with little ones in tow or elders would also opt for the larger, pricier Kings with the navigation of carts or choose the Sop Rite in Millburn as I hear many people choose in the first place. Again, I am hoping for wild success and the opportunity for the residents to give our thoughts, concerns, ideas to our - representatives.
snow man January 23, 2014 at 04:18 PM
As for my vision, I love the idea of Kings moving over there as well as a couple of stories of apartments above, but I'd limit the total height of the building to that of the surrounding buildings (three stories). In addition, taking t33 spots (and potentially 4.5 more) away from the town to give to residents (for which I guarantee they'll be charged handsomely by the building owners) is crazy. As noted above, if you can't park near the market people won't go regardless of how "reasonable" the otherwise undefined walking distance called for in the plan. And the "existing architecture vocabulary" for the plan is utterly basic and makes no mention of character. You know what else also has "clear glass store fronts" (take out anything "ideally"; all that matters is the minimum allowable); upper story windows demarcated with pilasters and stone surrounds and trimmed in stone or wood with lintels in stone or brick; and proportional cornices or eave caps? The LEGO House: http://gil.aminus3.com/image/2009-02-23.html
H Harvey January 26, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Well snow man I think you're right. At this point it's not about what will it be, but how it will look. Will it offer the convenience that a building this size needs? Will it welcome existing and new customers from both the Ave. and the train side? (very important!) Will it create a flow throughout the Village as well as the rest of the town? Will there be direct access from the train and the park? Will there be enough parking for an expanded Kings, additional retail, accommodate increased number of customers and 25+ new residents and their guests in the apartments above? Then theres the fine details, what "story" will this centrally located building tell about our town? And how will it make us proud? I like your ideas about the stone and wood but that's just me. My daughter goes to school in Asheville and I love the Smoky Mountain architecture. But I wouldn't think that would really fit in 2014, artsy and off the beaten path, Maplewood Village. We'll see. I imagine we're all just hoping for something that isn't cookie cutter Montclair/Summit or anything that we're sorry for in a year like the Stationhouse.

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