South Orange Development Moves Ahead; Water Talks Advance

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South Orange is in the midst of a redevelopment boom.

At the most recent Board of Trustees meeting Monday, Village Administrator Barry Lewis updated the board and the public on various projects taking place in the township. Lewis spoke in more detail about some of the projects in a recent phone interview with The Village Green.

3rd & Valley

This mixed-use residential and retail development with a parking deck is on target to open in November 2015, said Lewis, “which would be really exciting.”

The building is being developed by the Jonathan Rose company, and will contain 215-mixed income residential units, 513 parking spaces (255 of which will be for the public) and 3,000 square feet of retail.

The deck is “unique” in its design, said Lewis in a phone interview: it is a “double helix,” or two decks that spiral around each other, with one side for shoppers and commuters with permits and the other for tenants. The South Orange Parking Authority will oversee the public side, and Jonathan Rose’s parking manager will be responsible for the deck’s common functions, such as utilities, repairs and snow removal.

The Gateway

This luxury apartment complex is now fully approved for tenants, and many residents have been moving in, said Lewis. The township is planning an official grand opening/ribbon cutting for January.

Lewis told The Village Green that two of the retail tenants are in the process of getting ready to open. Mara’s Bakery should be open within a month or so, said Lewis, and D&I Fitness will be open in the new year.

Church Street

PSE&G has finally disconnected the utility service, said Lewis, allowing demolition to proceed on this long-vacant parcel of land at the corner of Church St. and South Orange Avenue.

The town will coordinate a date for a ribbon cutting in January. “This is a major step forward in the continued renaissance of the downtown,” Lewis said.

Irvington Avenue/Seton Village

Lewis said township officials have had meetings with potential developers interested in renovating existing properties or building new ones in this newly renamed business corridor.

Village Hall Sale and Renovation

The township is concurrently seeking bidders for two separate projects: the continued renovation of the historic structure — bids are due on January 22 (although Lewis said that date might shift a bit); and the adaptive reuse of the building — bids for that RFP are due January 8.

Lewis said pre-qualified contractors have done walkthroughs regarding the renovation, and that there have been some preliminary inquiries on the adaptive reuse RFP.

Orange Lawn

Although this was not discussed at the meeting, Lewis said in an interview that the Board of Trustees will vote to introduce an ordinance in January that would potentially change the zoning of this historic club on Ridgewood Road.

Orange Lawn’s owners are seeking to build roughly 30 town homes on a section of the property, said Lewis, in order to keep the club itself financially solvent. The parcel would have to be dual zoned for recreational use and “planned residential cluster.”

New Water Supplier

In other news, Village Counsel Steven Rother updated the board on the status of discussions between the town and the New Jersey American Water Company (NJAWC), which is set to take over the town’s water services.

Lewis said in an interview that the town was discussing the amount of water it was required to purchase from NJAWC. “We don’t want to be locked in” to purchasing more water than the town needs, he said.

NJAWC has agreed to allow the township to commit to an amount for a certain number of years and then reset the amount if it chooses. The contract will be on the agenda for approval in January, said Lewis.

Also, South Orange will go out to bid for a contractor for the Operations and Management of the water supply.


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