Three, five-story buildings containing almost 250 rental apartments would replace The Center Circle and reconfigure parking and access around City Hall Plaza, according to a concept plan presented to the Redevelopment Agency last week.
Attorney Tom Malman of Pitney Day in Parsippany, Shane Sorrano of Lavallette-based AST Development Corporation and architect Dean Marchetto, founding principal of Marchetto Higgins Stieve in Hoboken, were part of a team that made the 20-minute presentation to commissioners at their Aug. 7 meeting.
Of the 248 units proposed, Marchetto told commissioners:
* About 61 percent (~151) would be one-bedroom units;
* 27 percent (~67) two-bedrooms; and,
* 11 percent (~27) studios.
Along Main Street closest to SDI Technologies would be one 40-unit building, with 156 units in the largest building about where the Center Circle bubbles stand, and another 52 units in a third building closer to the library.
The plan would reorganize the parking and access through City Hall Plaza, establishing a road from East Milton Avenue to Main Street and creating frontage for the new project, Marchetto said, with an opportunity to someday accommodate further development. A road (really just for residential use) and a courtyard-type area would separate the largest building and the one closest to Main Street.
Marchetto stressed the use of prime brick with residential windows, using different color bricks to avoid a monotonous elevation. The renderings presented were not dissimilar from several projects he has designed in Hoboken. (Marchetto makes some good points about construction and urban architecture in this New York Times piece from 2006).
|Courtesy Marchetto Higgins Stieve|
The Wall of Honor near the entrance to the library would be relocated to help reconfigure access through the area as well as increase parking. There are 206 existing spaces in the City Hall Plaza lots; about 10 would be lost by eliminating the awkward L-shaped curb that borders the SDI property while 28 would be gained by moving the Wall of Honor plaza, for a net gain of 18, creating a new total of 234 spaces. Much of the 248 spaces for residential units would be accommodated by the ground-level parking with some use of exterior spaces, Marchetto said.
Senior Planner and Redevelopment Agency Secretary Cynthia Solomon described the entrance to the 10-year-old library building as awkward, wasted space that would become more of a pick-up/drop-off area like the neighboring Recreation Center once the monument is relocated. (It wouldn’t be the first time a monument is relocated, as I understand a police- or fire-related monument was relocated to create MLK Park on the west side of the Train Station.) Some commissioners raised concerns about the reconfiguration becoming a cut-through by motorists trying to avoid the traffic light in front of City Hall at the corner of East Milton Avenue and Main Street.
AST is in negotiations with owners of The Center Circle, which has been for sale for at least two years with an asking price of $5.45 million for the 3.5-acre site. Lavallette-based AST Development Corporation last year acquired the Metro Rahway project (formerly called Station Place) that broke ground this summer and is teaming with principals of Heartstone Development.
Rahway Main Street, LLC is expected to be appointed as redeveloper of the site at the agency’s next meeting on Sept. 4. The next phase would be to develop full architectural plans and present a site plan to the Planning Board.
The city has long planned to develop much of the area behind City Hall. For those who may not have been here: In February 2007, the City Council was presented with the Town Center proposal, an ambitious, retail-residential plan with hopes of attracting Trader Joe’s and Barnes & Noble, encompassing City Hall Plaza and eventually relocating City Hall and/or the Police Department. The plan consisted of about 175,000 square feet of retail space, 125-room hotel, 375 residential units and 1,300 parking space scattering among parking decks. Then the economy went south as the real estate market collapsed.