Demolition of the former Maplewood Post Office is scheduled to begin in February to make way for a new, mixed-use retail and residential building. As the site is located in the middle ofMaplewood Village — a heavily used retail corridor — there are challenges to ensuring the project causes as little disruption to residents, shoppers and merchants as possible.
That’s where the Post Office Project Construction Mitigation Committee comes in. Comprised of members of the Maplewood Police and Fire Departments and Dept. of Public Works, merchants (including John Meade of St. James’s Gate, Fred Shandler of Arturo’s and Michele Bessey of Perch Home), and residents, the committee will seek to maintain pedestrian and traffic circulation and parking during demolition and construction.
“The goal is the have remediation and demo begin during an inactive period for the Village,” said Annette DePalma, the municipal prosecutor and director of community relations, who is chairing the construction committee. “We want to ensure that pedestrian and vehicular circulation remains fluid.” The committee will work with the Maplewood Village Alliance and perhaps with a retail consultant to ensure that shoppers and diners continue to come into town during the process.
“The goal is for there to be very little disruption on Maplewood Avenue. Even though it’s a very small project, it’s [also] a very small space.”
Currently, the developer, Maplewood Redevelopers LLC, is working to remediate asbestos. Once completed, they will begin demo and then installation of the building’s footings, which should take 6-8 weeks. The developer hopes to have the first floor retail complete by November of 2016, said DePalma.
The construction staging area will be behind the building, and the construction vehicles will actually be parked in the underground parking area of the building.
Police and signage will direct drivers to other parking areas in the Village. Some parking might be unavailable for a couple of weeks in certain areas such as the row of parking directly across from Village Coffee. The NJ Transit tunnel will remain open for commuters, though it may have to be closed down for a few days. The outside lights will remain on for safety.
DePalma said she has been hearing much enthusiasm from local merchants who are looking forward to the development bringing more business to the Village. “More businesses mean more consumers for everyone,” she said, noting that while there is some trepidation among merchants, the committee is there to help.
“The township is committed to having pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow freely throughout the process,” said DePalma.