The plan for MC Residences, a development on the site of Ferrara’s Auto Body, between Valley & Bloom and the MC Hotel, first came to Montclair Development Review Committee back in October 2018. The development was described as featuring large apartments geared to empty-nesters who want to age in place and need or want the extra room.

The developer, Brian Stolar, had originally sought to have 46 units; the final version of the project approved by the Montclair Planning Board Tuesday night has 40 units.

Of those 40 units, there are two affordable two-bedroom units; one affordable one-bedroom unit and a three-bedroom affordable unit.

Architect Jack Raker from Minno Wasko described adjustments made to increase the square footage of the affordable units to make them more comparable in size to the market-rate units.

Attorney Tom Trautner explained that because of the decrease from 46 units to 40 units, this resulted in a reduction of affordable housing by one unit.

“To demonstrate our commitment to affordable housing, and while this is not required, I want to state for the record that my client [Stolar] is prepared, as a condition of site plan approval, to make a cash in lieu contribution of $150,000 to the township’s affordable housing trust fund. So by making this contribution, my client in summary is committing to having four affordable housing units on site, and to ensure that a fifth unit will be able to be built at an appropriate location determined by the township.”

Both board member Carmel Loughman and former board member Martin Schwartz were both critical of the project.

Loughman expressed concerns about traffic congestion on Orange Road.

Schwartz questioned why a parking variance was granted.

“Giving away a parking variance in this location is just bad precedent with no reason. It will continue to induce other builders going forward to try the same — when the developer here has the option of simply doing even less density in order to meet their code.”

The vote to approve the MC Residences project was 6-1-2. Loughman voted against the project while board members Carole Willis and Mayor Sean Spiller abstained.

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9 replies on “MC Residences Approved: Orange Road Gets 40 Units; Montclair Gets $150K For Affordable Housing”

  1. What makes the Planning Board’s (PB) meeting interesting is connecting two seemingly unconnected issues between the two, unique applications heard last Monday.

    First, some observations on 37 Orange Rd, the first application up:

    The PB, as one condition of approval (#4), is sending a written recommendation to the Council to adjust the parking regulations along Orange Road. Another condition of approval (#10) will be to formally record the developer’s $150,000 donation offer to the Township. The Council, as both the governing body and the zoning authority over municipal redevelopment projects, has to approve both.

    Another PB condition (#3) the building owner is forbidden to enter into any parking arrangement with the Orange Road Parking Deck.

    The deck’s primary business is parking – as most would know. The Orange Road Parking Deck (and Centro Verde Drive) is owned and operated by the redeveloper MAP Urban Renewal, Llc. MAP Urban Renewal, Llc is also the Township’s designated redeveloper of 37 Orange Road.

    Even better, the Township has an infamous parking lease agreement with MAP Urban Renewal. (Yes, yes, that same lease agreement the Planning Board’s parking expert pointed out material deficiencies. That is a separate issue for another thread. And no, Montclair Acquisition Partner’s is a separate legal entity.)

    Seriously PB, you might want to drop a condition or two.

    Second, 423 Bloomfield Ave:

    Specifically, at 3:21:35 into this horrible streaming quality is our Mayor pushing back on the almost “obligatory parking variance requests” with land use applications. He is notably abstaining on this application, but wants to make a point with his comment….Where is the public good? Taxpayers pay for the parking in the end? What do we get? Blah, blah, blah.

    To me, it sounds like a case for the 4 year old PILOP program recommendation. PILOP = Payments In Lieu Of Parking. Simply put, if a property owner wants to expand and it will exceed the maximum amount allowed, they can contribute cash to the General Fund…in lieu of.

    The In Lieu Of is the noteworthy phrasing.

    What both hearings tell me, and I think is great for everyone is that we could have new public good components that are objective, dollar quantified to help our growth needs…while reducing those pesky, time-consuming variances. We clearly also need to raise our parking permit rates for the Arts District’s parking decks to better reflect parking demand.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t speak to Mayor Spiller’s indicating the Midtown Parking Deck’s permit parking is already sold-out before we broke ground. Unfortunately, the Mayor’s numbers are wrong. What is a little shocking is that the Mayor is surprised parking demand is exceeding supply. Development, subsidized parking, no optimization plan. Go figure.

    Anyway, the Mayor said there are 220 planned permit spaces. There are actually 280 planned permit spaces. For the record, we lost 156 permits spots to development.

  2. And if we connect the dots of Mayor Spiller & his Rent Control agenda:
    – 70% of this new deck is permit parking
    – Night permits cost $45/month (avg $1.50 day)
    – Permit price increases be capped @ 4.25% annual increases (2.5% for Seniors).

  3. For our parking decks, hourly spaces generate double the revenue of permit spaces.
    Put another way, the parking deck bond would take twice as long to pay down in a permit, vs hourly, spaced deck.
    We should subsidize parking spaces for pre-existing dwellings. Not new dwellings.
    We are giving up $100K-200K a year under this 70/30 permit/hourly scenario versus a 50/50 split.

  4. Frank Rubacky — Good information and points on parking made here. Unfortunately, the piecemeal way you present — with various details first..points after and not clearly linked — are again hard to follow. Especially for a complicated issue.

    Can you please try to recap for clarity answering this way?

    What is or not being done correctly for permits v. hourly parking in the deck? Giving too many permits v. hourly parking seems to be your argument.

    Why is that wrong?

    What should we do instead and/or what was promised v. what was not delivered by last council on parking given loss of 156 spots…for what is coming.

    If you present the arguments this way…with the point first (what’s wrong/right or not being done)…the detail after or within the argued point why — readers can better follow a complicated business like this.

  5. My point is the benefit of the new Midtown Parking Deck parking deck is primarily targeting a narrow neighborhood constituency – specifically residential units first and commercial tenants second.

    The Arts District’s decks were approved under the Plan’s condition they replace the existing hourly & permit Public parking lost to construction…and provide 100 newly created Public parking spaces. Well, the Township not only replaced the 156 lost permit spaces, but they converted 24 hourlies to permit spaces, and then they made the 100 new spaces permit spaces. Fine, I understand these municipal redevelopment areas are treated like honey pots and the residential IMBY-ers are first in line. We just solved the Forest & Willow Streets parking problems … and, for good measure, an illusion to the neighborhood that this will fix the impact of The Crosby.

    Now I know almost no one will follow this, but the anchor tenants for the Arts District tend to have the highest uses & parking demand in the evening. The Arts District parking plan now allocates every evening over 500 total parking spaces among the new residential and neighborhood residential car owners. Over 500. Care to guess how many spaces the entire Arts District Redevelopment is building? You know.

    The choices are not wrong. I wouldn’t have made several of them, but I’m an outlier. What is becoming clear are fundamental differences between how this redevelopment was sold to the residents & taxpayers and the emerging reality. And apparently this is not a deviation in the Council’s goals or the plan.

  6. I was recently advised that a tenant in the Arts Deck is now a medical use…while the approved working calculations for available public parking there were originally based on other use/less demand calculations. So with your points above…and other issues…I think this entire redevelopment area parking for both new decks coming there now need to be re-reviewed again…for what was promised by developers and what’s in the plan…and now, who is using and getting what and what the net space outcome is for what kind of parking — permit day/night. Office-retail and residential. it’s all moving into never-never land complexity at this point and cannot be reviewed, or resolved in a baristanet comment — given the constantly moving target variables and complexity.

  7. Martin,

    The core problem is that Montclair refuses to have ANY level of transparency & accountability into public parking operations. It’s been this way forever and precipitated the Parking Authority which absolutely blew up and ‘reimagined’ into the present day Parking Utility.

    Municipal Public Parking is a very large business for us. It has its own substantial debt & debt service. It has multiple, complex revenue streams. The Planning & Zoning Boards are just the instruments of others working in an off-line world away from public scrutiny and understanding.
    It is unlikely to change because for all that is lacking, for all the considerable dollars involved, for all the property owner interests involved, for all the waste…the bottomline is any extended discussion of the subject cures insomnia. It is boring. It is life wasted.

  8. Martin,

    The change to a medical use will not be a problem if The Wellmont Theater goes away. Then we will just have a much prettier version of Lackawanna Plaza. God I love the smell of Smart Growth in the morning.

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