Collum: Proposed 4th & Valley Project in South Orange ‘Too Large’ to Move Forward

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A proposed large-scale mixed-use development at Fourth and Valley in South Orange will not move forward with Meridia as conditional redeveloper due to the size of the project.

Meridia Capodagli Property, which the town designated as conditional redeveloper of the site back in July 2015 was proposing to build a multi-unit apartment complex with ground floor retail adjacent to a new project at Third & Valley. Third & Valley, developed by Jonathan Rose LLC, has 215 apartments and 3,000 sf of retail, plus a parking garage. The Third & Valley apartments are a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units.

Members of the Academy Heights Neighborhood Association told The Village Green back in February that Meridia’s original proposal was for a 5-story, 330-unit project.

During her report at the March 28 Board of Trustees meeting, Village President Sheena Collum reported that the Township would not be moving forward with Meridia as conditional redeveloper.

Collum indicated that the town and the developer had come to an impasse over the size of the project. “We truly appreciate what they put forward but it is still a project that at this time is a little bit too large and a little bit too dense…. Third & Valley is pretty much at the max of where we will be.”

Collum noted that the town had worked with the community, including the Academy Heights Neighborhood Association, and the developer. She said that the town’s new planner Phil Abramson had issued memos to the developer on design review and on massing and density. The second memo addressed the scale and number of units that the Village would consider for the site, said Collum. “Unfortunately, at this period of time we don’t have any level of agreement, nor do I feel that we are close, on the bulk standards…. This project will not be moving forward as is. We do hope to continue the conversation.”

Collum said she did want to explain to the public that the 4th & Valley project is “very different” than the 3rd and Valley site in that the town owned the land at 3rd & Valley. However, all the parcels within the 4th and Valley project were privately owned and required the developer to privately negotiate purchases prices with contingencies. Collum said that the land acquisition costs to assemble the land for a project becomes a factor into whether it can be financially feasible: “That type of acquisition … dictates what type of density, and what type of massing, parking standards etc. and affordable housing onsite, offsite, etc. that a developer can afford based on those numbers.”

“We truly appreciate what they put forth. We truly appreciate their interest in investing in our town, but it’s still a project that at this point in time is a little bit too large and a little too dense. … Third & Valley is pretty much at the max of where we will be,” said Collum.

“We hope to continue that investment, unfortunately it does not seem that at this point in time it will be with this conditional developer.”

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