South Park Street, downtown Montclair’s widest block measuring 53 feet wide, is due for an extreme makeover. Tom Lonergan, Executive Director at Montclair BID, says “South Park Street is a sea of asphalt, with dangerous, outdated angular parking and wasted space. And it’s also the ugliest street in the business district, badly in need of repair.”
The beautifcation of South Park Street, under discussion for more than 10 years, may finally come to fruition. Local architect Erik Maran of Smith Maran has been a major force in moving this project along, meeting with council members, providing multiple renderings, drawings, and discussing their visions of what the street could become. The idea is to add greenery, create space for summer festivals, outdoor dining, and reconfigure the parking. South Park Street’s redesign is one issue the town council unanimously agrees on.
Above a photo of the street today, and a rendering of the future streetscape, courtesy of Smith Maran.
“The Council absolutely supports major improvements to Park Street with the goal of extending the “village feeling” of Church Street to South Park. Since a lot of street work was necessary anyway, it will be a very cost-effective way to make downtown Montclair an even better destination for visitors and residents,” says Mayor Jerry Fried.
“Maran has provided his expertise and services for this project pro-bono,” says Lonergan. The township has had about $150,000 in the pot for street repairs, and in October they approved another $250,000″ says Lonergan, “but costs could run way over that amount.”
Indeed, councilor Cary Africk says Maran submitted some numbers to the council, estimating the project cost would be no less than $750,000, a figure corroborated by an engineering firm engaged by the town.
In the best-case scenario, the construction would begin in the spring, but hundreds of questions are still up in the air. According to Lonergan, the consensus is that only the east sidewalk (on Leone’s side of the street) should be widened to make the block more pedestrian friendly – and the 29 parking spaces must be preserved.
Town Manager Joe Hartnett says the town will be issuing an RFP in the next few days soliciting concept plans. “Erik Maran will certainly be one of those designers submitting a proposal and would be a leading candidate based on all the work he has done to date for the BID,” says Hartnett.
Another vision Lonergan has for downtown is to highlight a pedestrian-friendly “figure 8” shopping loop in the heart of Montclair’s central business disctrict, incorporating Bloomfield, North Willow and Glenridge Avenue with the Church Street triangle. See below.