On October 25, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum notified constituents that Stuart Wainberg of Wainco South Orange, LLC “filed an appeal with the Superior Court of New Jersey to stop the redevelopment of Village Hall into a restaurant and indoor/outdoor beer garden.”
Village Hall has been approved for sale to Landmark Hospitality and redevelopment as a restaurant, biergarten and catering hall. The building, which had become dilapidated by long-deferred maintenance, had cost the Township millions in renovations. In order to avoid millions more in needed improvements, the Township posted an RFP for the sale of the property more than three years ago. Landmark Hospitality was the winning bidder, and the town is anticipating a payment of approximately $1.3 million with the close of the sale shortly.
Collum reported that South Orange Planning Board and the applicant Landmark Hospitality were named in Wainberg’s suit.
In a Facebook post, Collum write, “Integrity means something – it actually means a lot. Working in ‘good faith’ to identify collaborative solutions isn’t easy work but it should and must be done. And if I ever feel that someone is trying to take advantage of the governing body or this community, I fight back.”
Village Green has reached out to Wainberg for comment but has not yet received a reply.
Residents responding on Facebook were predominantly in support of the redevelopment of Village Hall and several called out Wainberg, who owns 75 South Orange Avenue as well as a number of residences in South Orange. In particular, residents said Wainberg ran “frat houses” in residential neighborhoods. One commenter wrote, “He has 11 students renting the house behind us. And about 11 cars. ”
Collum responded, “He’s appeared before land use boards in town previously to seek variances on parking for converting homes into student housing and was denied.”
Collum first indicated that an objector might file an appeal at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night, October 23. Read Village Green’s story about that announcement here.
In April, Wainberg approached the town about the potential redevelopment of 75 South Orange Avenue which is across the street from Village Hall. Wainberg appeared at the April South Orange Development Committee meeting to discuss marrying development of his property with the proposed 130-unit Hub Realty-Lustbader/Blockbuster development.
During the site plan approval process for the Landmark development of Village Hall, Daniel Bernstein, a lawyer for Wainco was a fixture at many of the Planning Board hearings on the Village Hall project, submitting materials related to parking and traffic and extensively cross-examining witnesses.