Last week, Jason DeSalvo urged readers to not allow the two additional stories proposed for CentroVerde development. This week, Martin Schwartz weighs in.
Serious resident focus should be given now to the CentroVerde project. The Montclair Planning Board is being asked to support an additional two stories of height and allow those buildings to rise to 8 stories in exchange for the developer paying for a park in the lot across the street. There is also a substantial, ancillary revenue payday involved.
A vote on this issue could happen at the next board meeting on Oct. 7th. The recommendation (or turn-down) then moves to the Council — which has the ultimate vote.
Because of the important visual impact at this gateway corner (which will then be locked) — residents should communicate their POV’s both to the Planning Board either in writing (or attend the hearing) and also reach out to your elected reps – what ever your opinion.
The core issues at hand are set-backs, height and the amount of bulk and volume on the block — now being created.
How do you feel about giving up two stories of light and air for payment of a park and to obtain other revenues ($1-2 million) that could be used for debt service and tax reduction? Also, in contrast to the two added stories….the building set-backs are now being increased to 7 feet – starting at floor five.
Set-backs create a feeling of bulk reduction as you go up higher and generally improve a building design. However, from the last developer proposal – the 7 foot set-backs offered (at floors 7 & 8) were not being carried all around the building. The developer is now coming back to the table with what should be another set-back modification proposal – but the above is what was last presented.
In the interest of full disclosure, prior to joining the planning board, I strongly opposed that board’s then reduction of set-backs from 8 feet originally written into the redevelopment plan — to the five feet the board ultimately agreed upon after the developer requested a modification. I believed then and still do now that the 8 foot set-back itself was insufficient and would still create a very bulky building – similar in feel to the Sienna. I also felt that the Centro Verde’ design details as presented then, were not in keeping with the “character” and the preservation goals in our master plan.
Having now been put on the planning board (appointed by this Council FYI for those screaming the new mayor is in the pocket of developers) those concerns have not changed. The issue now however is: will adding back larger set-backs starting at floor 5 and getting the park $ and potentially $1-2 million — make a better building and a better situation – even with the added height? The alternative is to just accept the current 6 story buildings as designed. Sadly, this development still appears to be a hulking canyon there despite machinations to the contrary — already approved by the Planning Board under the last Fried Township Council.
That’s right. This one slipped through with a minimum of public push back. Now, the choices appear to be a decision among competing bad calls.
We face a bulky, huge block of building design that is not optimum at six stories, (with a hotel potentially at 9 stories) or a slightly improved building design with more set-backs at eight stories — mitigated by the paid for park and other substantial additional revenue. Rather than stop the rt. 46 NJ. type development look seen all around us and instead require something great – we allowed it again at Centro Verde. The development was approved by the last Council. So what say you all now here?
More important…communicate those POV’s directly to your elected reps and to the Planning Board at least in writing — preferably before the next meeting Oct. 7th.
Martin Schwartz is a local business owner and member of the Planning Board. He shares this post, which originally ran on The Montclair Watercooler.