Plofker seeks to build retail-office at Grove-Walnut corner
By LINDA MOSS
Montclair developer Steven Plofker has yet another project in the works, now looking to replace a car-rental business and car wash at the corner of Grove and Walnut streets with a retail-office building.
Plofker appeared before the Township Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday night to discuss the variances he will need to proceed with his plans for three parcels of land that he's acquired at the busy corner.
The variances include approval to have some office tenants on the first floor of his proposed L-shaped, two-story brick building and to provide 50 parking spaces rather than the 82 required by township ordinances.
Under his proposal, Plofker would demolish the four buildings on his site, including the structure that now houses Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the Grove Car Wash and a multi-family house.
I’m very excited," he said. "I hope I get to build the building ... This is very high-end. I think this is the type of space that really doesn’t exist for the most part [in Montclair].”
The portion of his proposed mixed-use building on the first floor that faces Grove Street would be for retail tenants, according to Plofker. But he wants to be able to lease the less prominent first-floor space that is behind the building to office tenants. Township codes bar offices from first-floor space that is zoned for retail-commercial use.
The entire second floor of the new building would be offices, Plofker said.
His new building, similar to those he has seen in Chicago and Houston, would have 20 parking spaces in the front of the building, facing Grove Street. That lot would be connected to the rear parking area behind the building on Walnut Street.
The developer said he has also made arrangements to provide additional parking, off-site, for his new building on property that he owns on Willow Street and through an arrangement with Decamp Bus Lines.
Plofker said he envisioned restaurants as being potential tenants at his project, adding that the area by Grove and Walnut streets "has become a popular restaurant destination." He pointed out that The Corner, on the other corner across the street from his site, is a favorite local spot for breakfast.
The developer said that he would like to keep Enterprise at the site, in his new building, and that the car-rental wants to stay. But Plofker said that is a difficult proposition since Enterprise needs 10 parking spaces for car storage.
“They would love to stay," Plofker told the zoning board. "It’s premature for me to talk more about it because I don’t have an approval, but we’re going to try to keep them. They have a lot of parking need, really car-storage needs ... especially on their peak days of the week.”
Montclair architect Paul Sionas, working for Plofker, began testifying at the zoning board meeting. The proposed building is “meant to be an eclectic, industrial-looking building with high ceilings,” and have three outdoor pedestrian plazas, according to Sionas.
The hearing on Plofker's application was continued until Nov. 8.