Planning Board approves 45 units for East Cherry

The Planning Board unanimously approved a 45-unit, five-story apartment complex that will remake the north side of East Cherry Street, replacing three buildings of no more than three stories.

The Gramercy elevationThe 7-0 vote came after about an hour of testimony during the Nov. 24 Planning Board meeting, with little comment from board members and only one question from the public.

The Gramercy will include a ground-floor retail component of 1,215 square feet featuring a Rock’n’Joe Coffee Bar Sledgehammer Coffee franchise. It would be the franchise’s sixth location in Union and Essex counties.

“We wanted to emphasize the corner. We put retail on the corner to give it vibrancy, to serve as an anchor,” Nicholas Netta of Mountainside-based Netta Architects said.

The 45 units will break down as 23 one-bedrooms, 19 two-bedrooms and 3 studios amid 70,328 square feet. Studios will run 455 to 555 square feet, one-bedrooms of 795 square feet and two-bedrooms of 1,030 square feet.

Among the variances will be for parking, with only 23 ground-floor spaces for 45 units, 10 of which will be double-stacked, with tandem spaces assigned to two-bedroom units. Parking requirements call for 1.25 spaces per unit, which would total 57 spaces for a 45-unit proposal. That would leave a shortage of about 34 spaces, which would be made up with a payment in lieu of parking for spaces at the Lewis Street parking deck.

The Gramercy.RocknJoeThe application for Block 318, Lots 18-21 and 1.03 was submitted by R2-N2 Properties, LLC, seeking preliminary major site plan, final site plan approval and a minor subdivision with a bulk ā€œcā€ variance, for 38-52 E. Cherry St., (Block 318, Lots 18-21 and 1.03). Waldwick-based DMR Construction acquired the lots last December, along with another downtown property, formerly owned by Dornoch.

Some lots will be exchanged or acquired via the Parking Authority, and the project will include a 70×60 pocket park behind the development. It’s undetermined yet whether the park will be maintained by the city or the Parking Authority. The $8-million project is expected to break ground by March.

The Gramercy first was proposed to the Redevelopment Agency in April as a 33-unit complex with no parking and more retail. The plan was revised at least two more times, by August and September.

For more background on The project, check out these previous posts.