Potential Blockbuster Block Development Moving Along Slowly in South Orange

by The Village Green
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Lustbader/Blockbuster Parcel Map

Amidst the talk about more dynamic projects on Valley Street and elsewhere in South Orange, one project has been been somewhat overshadowed.

However, that project —the potential development of several parcels on the western half of the block bounded by South Orange Avenue, Vose Avenue, Taylor Place and Scotland Road — has been slowly moving along as the Lustbader family works to assemble properties with the aim of developing a mixed use building with ground-floor retail, office space and apartments above, and a parking deck for tenants and the public.

In 2014, the Village of South Orange conditionally designated “Vose Avenue Apartments Urban Renewal, LLC” as the redeveloper of a number of parcels in this block.

“This entity was created by the Lustbaders, who were the owners of a number of properties on Vose Avenue, Taylor Place and South Orange Avenue for many years,” Village Administrator Barry Lewis recently relayed in an email requesting an update on the project.

Lewis said that, subsequent to the designation, the Lustbaders purchased the former Blockbuster Video site (Lot 11 on the map, shown above). This property and the possible inclusion of a Village owned parking lot (Lot 3) are a part of the discussions. (In the picture from the tax map, the Lustbaders/Vose Avenue Apartments Urban Renewal now own Lots 1, 2,9, 10, 11, 13 and 14. The Township of South Orange Village owns Lot 3.)

“The only other property which has been discussed for inclusion is Lot 12 on the northeast corner of South Orange Avenue and Vose Avenue,” said Lewis. “However, that is under separate ownership and, to date, the Lustbaders have not been able to reach a deal to acquire that lot.”

With exception of Lot 12 (Chris’s Family Restaurant), the Lustbaders now own all of the properties west of the alley beside the current Pop n’ Shop and Cafe Dubois. Properties to the east, including those housing CMB Kicks, Investors Bank and Mark Murphy Music, are not included.

Lewis said that discussions are “ongoing as to possible development and at present that includes the possible use of a redevelopment plan.”

The potential project was the subject of discussion at a recent South Orange Development Committee meeting (read TAPintoSOMA’s coverage here).

TAP reported that the project would be “one of the largest for South Orange Village”; however, no specific numbers have been given on the number of units or height of the building, and there is currently no formal proposal or plan for the site.

Bob Zuckerman, Executive Director of the South Orange Village Center Alliance, told the Development Committee that the project could add “top grade retail space” to the Village Center.

Click on the map below to enlarge:

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