Concept plan proposes 40 units on Monroe Street

Redevelopment is inching its way across the river from downtown, with a second concept plan proposed for the area: a 40-unit complex on Monroe Street.

The Redevelopment Agency heard a presentation at its meeting Wednesday night from Livingston-based Flag Management and Appel Design Group Architects for a proposed five-story development at 111-113 Monroe St. (Block 321, Lot 2).

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The property currently houses a multi-family dwelling, sandwiched between a Norwood Auto Parts store and a lot owned by the Parking Authority adjacent to the river. The 21,216-square-foot lot, which is located in a CBD-3 zone, is long and narrow (75×287), nearly reaching Lafayette Street.

Four stories of apartments would top ground-level parking, with 10 units on each floor (five one-bedroom units and five-two-bedroom units). The sizes of the apartments are substantially different than what’s been built in other recent developments, Executive Director Leonard Bier said. “They’re giving up unit count to get larger units,” he said. One-bedroom units would be about 840 square feet and two-bedroom units about 1,190 square feet.

The Monroe.front elevation-page-001The building, named The Monroe, must be raised about 6 1/2 feet to get parking out of the flood elevation. Laurance Appel, principal of Livingston-based Appel Design Group Architects, said they’ve accentuated the design to de-emphasize the size of the building, which would be about 55 feet.

Appel said the design for parking slopes up as aggressively as possible to get as many spaces above the flood elevation as they can but it still will leave some spaces in the flood elevation.

It’s not unlike other projects that still have some parking in flood elevation, according to Bier. In extreme cases, like Hurricane Sandy, cars would be moved to higher ground. Bier said he recently did something similar with a project in Bloomfield that was in a flood plain.

City ordinance requires 50 parking spaces but the concept calls for a minimum of 40. There would be about 35 spaces, one handicapped, two tandem spots, and a few compact spaces, with about 10 spaces handled off-site, Appel said. The off-site spaces would be addressed through a Payment In Lieu Of Parking (PILOP) for the Parking Authority or developers will make other arrangements.

The Monroe.floor plan and zoning-page-001Like the proposed Tesla development nearby, The Monroe also will require state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permitting because of its proximity to the Rahway River. Those DEP hurdles will determine whether the project will be able to be built on the site, Bier said, and the concept plan simply shows what they’re thinking for a design.

The Redevelopment Agency on Wednesday night ultimately granted conditional designation for four months to Flag Management as redeveloper of the site. That will allow the developer to begin discussions with the DEP, Bier said, and hopefully piggyback on the Tesla project because they are similar in nature, come back, ask for extension.

Livingston-based Flag Management acquired the property in February 2014 for $225,000, according to property records. The site currently houses a four-unit building and is assessed for $143,700, generating a property tax bill of about $9,380.74.

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