One East Cherry Street building would be demolished to pave the way for a pedestrian promenade connecting Lewis Street but another would be renovated and added onto under a concept plan presented to the Redevelopment Agency last week.
The project would consist of 43 units — 30 one-bedrooms, 8 studios and 5 two-bedrooms — and 4,345 square feet of retail space fronting the 40-foot wide promenade, which would feature removable bollards and street furniture.
Executive Director Leonard Bier said they’ve been working with the developer for a number of months to get prepared to come before commissioners. The purpose of the presentation at the Redevelopment Agency’s Nov. 4 meeting was to introduce the developer, Tamarand Realty, and present the preliminary concept plan, he said, with the next presentation providing more context on Tamarand Cherry, LLC. The West Orange-based developer acquired several lots along East Cherry and Lewis streets as part of a $1.12-million deal earlier this year.
There would be some land exchanges to create the promenade, Bier said, adding that the property at 65 E. Cherry St. was deeded to the Parking Authority by DMR Construction, which acquired several Dornoch properties last year.
The single-story building currently housing New Era sports shop (Block 317, Lot 14/61 E. Cherry) would be demolished. The Parking Authority acquired that building earlier this year. An existing building (Block 317, Lot 13) housing 9 rental units and three ground-floor retail spaces would be renovated and “re-skinned” with a new facade and fifth floor would be added. New construction would rise on the adjacent 17-space parking lot on Lewis Street (Block 317, Lot 10).
The ground level would continue to be commercial and should be lively, like a restaurant or cafe, said Kim DeFreitas of Mountainside-based Netta Architects. The retail space would be pushed a little in to create a slight overhang for commercial tenants which would draw people in. There would be a slight bend to the promenade so as not to present a “massive facade,” with different materials to articulate the bend. The facade would be traditional brick for the existing building with a classic gable and clock tower on the corner of Irving and East Cherry.
Apartments would begin on the second floor, with a small rooftop garden on the third floor. The fourth floor concept currently has loft apartments and a completely new fifth floor would be constructed onto the existing building, said Freitas, featuring loft and mezzanine style apartments, with living area and kitchen on one floor and bedrooms upstairs, essentially creating apartments with 1 1/2-story windows.
Part of the objective of the Main & Monroe project is to extend Monroe Street to Cherry Street, Bier said. The promenade would be 40 feet wide and 180 feet deep, connecting East Cherry Street to Lewis Street, similar to the Main Street walkway accessing River Place. The eastern end of East Cherry from Main to Monroe could be turned into pedestrian-only on weekends, he said, with the promenade allowing vehicular access from the deck after special events.
Some 50 spaces in the parking deck would be set aside for the 43-unit complex.
With all of the planned construction downtown, Commissioner Paul Sefranka asked whether increased activity would become problematic for the parking situation. “I just envision a whole lot going on at once,” he said. Commissioner Timothy Nash also raised the issue, asking in the event that the downtown were to become vibrant, would there be enough sparking to accommodate visitors as well as new construction.
Bier, who also serves as executive director of the Parking Authority, said the authority has been monitoring the parking deck for the past year, tracking parking demand and use throughout the week. After some back and forth with commissioners, Bier said he was confident that there is more than sufficient availability, with current maximum use of 350 spaces at the 524-space parking deck to accommodate 130 spaces for the three planned projects (50 for Main & Monroe, 50 for this project, and potentially about 30 for the DMR project across the street). “I can’t speak to the next project,” he said, but there is more than enough capacity for these three. The Parking Authority has other lots and off-street parking, some of which can be re-purposed if necessary, he said. (More on the parking discussion later).
The Redevelopment Agency approved a motion to appoint Tamarand LLC as developer and is expected to approve a more detailed plan at its December meeting.