A group of more than 40 Maplewood Village merchants has petitioned for a meeting with township officials and the owners of the upcoming Post House development to discuss potential tenants for the new building.
The request — spurred by publication last week of a Village Green interview with the building’s developer, Joe Forgione of JMF Properties, revealing that potential tenants include Starbucks, a dry cleaner, a farm-to-table restaurant, a women’s clothing store and a bank — came in the form of a letter from merchants to Forgione, Mayor Vic DeLuca and John James, president of the board of the Maplewood Village Alliance.
“[W]e are writing to request that before merchant leases are finalized and signed for the Post House that all of you participate in an open meeting with Village merchants, landlords, and other interested Village stakeholders to discuss and share information and analysis regarding the project’s benefits to existing merchants and to the Village overall,” said local dentist Dr. Kevin Muench, who read the letter at Tuesday’s Maplewood Township Committee meeting on behalf of 44 merchants and three landlords.
Muench said that the merchants are less worried about “fair competition” and more concerned with how the retail tenants can be “complementary to the Village economy overall, and not unduly driven by the project’s desired financial gains, or the fact the project is the recipient of tax and other incentives that are not available to local landowners and merchants.”
See the full letter attached here as a PDF.
The owner of Maplewood Cleaners read a letter she recently sent to Forgione imploring him to meet with her and other local store owners. “There are three other dry cleaners in town,” she said. “Our mayor has told us for a long time the new building was good and will benefit our village. Another dry cleaner will likely result in a loss of business and the possibility of our business closing….”
DeLuca said while he could not speak on behalf of the MVA or Forgione, he would reach out to both by Monday, April 11. Muench wondered if that might affect the signing of any leases and asked DeLuca to ask the developer to delay making any definitive moves until a meeting can take place. “I don’t know his timetable,” DeLuca said, but the Mayor promised to get the letter to Forgione by April 6.