Glenridge Ave. arts center project stalled for 2 years after planning board approval
COURTESY PLANNING DEPARTMENT
Plans to transform a Glenridge Avenue property into an arts and entertainment space with six residences have been stalled for over two years, the owners say.
Although they received Planning Board approval in February 2020, the project cannot break ground, as owners Maria and Marek Tylek, of M&M Tylek LLC, said the township has been holding up paperwork for an easement. The easement pertains to a pedestrian egress door at the southwest corner of the building to provide access to the Midtown parking deck.
With a deadline of two years to begin construction running out in April, Marek Tylek was back at the Planning Board on May 9 asking for an extension.
Tylek told Montclair Local in February of 2020 that he had hoped to break ground in May, to coordinate with construction of the neighboring Midtown parking deck. The parking deck was expected to open by mid-February, but water accumulation problems are keeping it from opening, according to town officials.
The owners plan to expand the current 5,119-square-foot building to 17,621 square feet by adding a third story and extending the entire building to the rear property line. The expanded building will contain four new two-bedroom apartments with terraces or roof gardens, 398 square feet of office space and 1,992 square feet for arts and entertainment.
The property at 182 Glenridge Ave. currently contains a two-story, mixed-use building, with two commercial tenants on the first floor, two apartments on the second floor and an attached garage with four parking spaces. Both apartments and the commercial space would remain with the build-out.
Tylek said the additional units would subsidize the arts component, which would be available to Montclair artists for free.
While at first Tylek was seeking an easement, which is a permanent right to a property, he is now seeking a license, a temporary right to use that property, he said. For a year and a half he and his attorney, Alan Trembulak, had been attempting to get the paperwork through former Township Attorney Ira Karasick, who resigned suddenly in December of last year after being accused of making a racial comment. Now they are seeking to get the approval through interim Township Attorney Paul Burr.
As of May 9, Tylek had not received an easement or a license to construct the exit door.
“I can’t do anything until I get the paperwork from the town on the license,” he told Montclair Local. “I am losing money every month.”
Burr did not return an email sent May 9 requesting an update on the license, but at the May 9 Planning Board meeting Township Planner Janice Talley said that Burr is making it a “priority.”
Tylek has not renewed leases for his tenants, as they expired in anticipation of the commencement of construction. The retail spaces remain empty, he said.
He asked the Planning Board for a two-year extension, but Talley said that by state law it could only give a one-year extension.
Tylek said that he was concerned with making that timeline, but the board said that he could ask for another extension in a year.
The board voted unanimously to grant the one-year extension.
Tylek said he would occupy the office space on the third floor, with the remainder being studio space for artists and musicians. His wife, a Flamenco dancer, would use the studio space as well. The couple also plan on living in one of the apartments, and Tylek would manage the entire building.
He said exhibition space will be offered to emerging artists and art organizations that struggle to find space to showcase art.
“I have waited over two years. Costs for [this project] will now be much higher — 15% to 20% more,” he told Montclair Local. “I am outraged.”