Prospects are looking good for the development of the old police station site on Dunnell Road.
On Wednesday night, representatives of J.G. Petrucci Co. of Asbury, N.J. made an informal presentation of preliminary plans for the development of 125 Dunnell Road to members of the Maplewood Village Alliance.
At the meeting, Mayor Vic DeLuca stated that the Township and Petrucci had come to an agreement for the sale of the site and that "attorneys are drafting the redevelopment agreement."
Petrucci has been in exclusive negotiations with the Township of Maplewood for redevelopment of the parcel since June 21. DeLuca announced at the Sept. 6 Township Committee meeting that at either the Sept. 20 or Oct. 5 town meeting. Also on Sept. 6, the town extended the exclusive negotiating period to Oct. 5.
In June, the Town from among three developers who answered an RFP for the purchase and development of the property. Petrucci proposes to build a 50-unit apartment building that will include a mix of 38 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units. The plan is for 46 market rate units and four affordable housing units. The proposed building is four stories high, with ground floor parking and three residential stories above.
There will be 60 on-site parking spaces — meeting the 1.2 per housing unit requirement in the . The building will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. The units will all be rental; however, the units all have individual utility hookups to make for easy conversion to condominium units should the condo market improve.
No tax abatement will be granted for the development. As a rental property, the building will pay an assessment to the Maplewood Village Alliance Special Improvement District.
Petrucci's plan must comply with the Redevelopment Plan for the parcel which the .
At Wednesday night's meeting, DeLuca noted that the Alliance had no jurisdiction over design of the building — guidelines for design are built into and controlled by the redevelopment agreement, with design approval going through the Planning Board. However, he said, "Although this is not formal, we welcome any comments. This is a process of give and take."
David Wisotsky of Bohler Engineering and David Minno of Minno & Wasko, architect for Petrucci, ran through the basic parameters of the plan and design. Minno showed two elevations — one at a 50 ft height and one at 62 ft. Minno said that Petrucci was aware of the "50 ft all in" limit on the height of the building that was stipulated by the redevelopment plan but explained that that elevation was being shown solely to demonstrate how a gabled roof treatment would affect the look of the building.
Local architect Marvin Clawson was interested to know what grade level was used as a baseline for measuring the building height. Minno said he used the average grade in front of the building.
Dan Lacz of Petrucci noted that the apartments would have granite and stainless steel finishes and other high-end features and materials. Despite the economy, he said that the "market is driving that. You need to deliver." At this point, the exterior of the building was proposed to be a combination of brick, clapboard (mirroring the majority of Maplewood housing stock) and some composite materials. "Balconettes" of 18" depth were proposed for the facade.
Minno stressed that the design was not complete ("This is hot off the press," he said) and that, in no way, should anyone in the room consider it as final. MVA members variously suggested that Petrucci use materials more reflective of surrounding properties like Nelson's Garage or make the facade look more like a combination of Maplewood single family homes. Minno noted the difficulty of the latter suggestion due to the fact that groundfloor front doors cannot be added because the first floor is made up of screened parking.
(The first floor of the building cannot consist of residential units due to the fact that the building is located partially in a flood plane. Wisotsky noted that Petrucci has met with the state Department of Environmental Protection and is confident that it will gain approval for the development from the DEP.)
Petrucci will be marketing the units to emptynesters, downsizers and city-dwellers who will be commuting via train. Lacz pointed to other similar projects completed by Petrucci, including a 71-unit transit-oriented multi-family development in Nutley.
He said potential monthly rents would be about $1,600 for one bedroom units and $2,400 to $2,500 for the 2-bedroom units. The size of the units was 785 sf to upwards of 800 sf for 1-bedroom units and 994 sf to 1055 sf for 2-bedroom units.
MVA member John Branagan (who is also a member of the Planning Board) had concerns that there was not sufficient outdoor space for residents to "hang" or to transition from the interior to the exterior. Minno responded that more of the drop-off driveway in front of the building could be transitioned to grass or a "stoop." He said, "It's not a final site plan. We would need to work on that with the town." Still, he said, Petrucci could "explore" options for outdoor space.
Lacz said that Petrucci hoped to have a final plan before the Planning Board in November.
Overall, the Petrucci team expressed a desire to be cooperative and flexible regarding design.
"We're local guys, Jersey guys," said Lacz. "We are fully integrated. The owners will be here in town. This is a long-term investment."