UPDATE: Vose + Taylor Redevelopment Plan to See Final Vote by South Orange Trustees

by Mary Mann
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This article was first published on December 27, 2019 and has been updated. 

The long-anticipated and much-negotiated plan to redevelop the majority of properties bounded by South Orange Avenue, Scotland Road, Taylor Place and Vose Avenue should see a final vote by South Orange Board of Trustees in February 2020.

That vote, however, is pending a ruling by the South Orange Planning Board which carried its review of the plan from its January 6 meeting to its February 3 meeting. The Planning Board is reviewing the Vose + Taylor plan for consistency with the South Orange Master Plan. A positive ruling on Feb. 3 would clear the way for a second hearing and final vote by the Board of Trustees at either the February 10 or February 24 BOT meeting.

At the Jan. 6 Planning Board meeting, at least one business owner being displaced by the development expressed concerns about finding new affordable space in South Orange Village Center.

Should the plan be approved by the Board of Trustees in February, the developer, HUB Realty, would then submit a site plan to the Planning Board for review.

Note: This rendering from the Sept. 25, 2019 Development Committee meeting does not represent a final design.

Ordinance #2019-26 “Adopting the ‘Vose + Taylor Redevelopment Plan’ Pursuant to the local redevelopment and housing law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 et seq.” was introduced at the regular meeting of the BOT on December 9, 2019. The plan outlines a 5-story, mixed-use redevelopment project, to by undertaken by HUB Realty, that will bring 110 units of housing, a minimum of 12,000 sf of retail and a maximum 10,000n sf of second floor commercial space to the heart of South Orange Village. The developer will provide a minimum of 121 residential parking spaces and construct a garage that provides at least 70 public parking spaces.

In addition, the plan includes a $1.3M public land acquisition by HUB Realty, as well as a $700,000 Public Improvement Contribution “for purposes of funding off-site capital improvements and associated costs,” and an agreement for the Township to lease commercial space at a rate of $1.00 per annum for a minimum term of 25 years at the end of which the Village will “have right-of-first-refusal for a 5-year lease at market rate rent with option for one 5-year extension.”

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From the ordinance:

Maximum Height:

  • 65’-6” from South Orange Avenue elevation +160’ and 61’-6” from Taylor Place elevation +164’. 5 Stories and a “basement” measured from South Orange Avenue. (otherwise applicable height 36’-0” – 48’-0”)

Density:

110 units (76.4 units/acre) (One (1) additional unit for on-site superintendent.)

Affordable Housing:

11 units on-site (10%) Unit Mix of On-site Affordable Units:

– Three (3) 1-Bedroom Units

– Five (5) 2-Bedroom Units

– Three (3) 3-bedroom Units

11 units off-site at $75,000 per unit (10%) ($825,000 total off-site contribution)

Minimum Retail:

South Orange Avenue Frontage: Minimum of 9,500 Sq. Ft. (includes 2,000 Sq. Ft. of Community Retail space, pursuant to terms below)

Vose Avenue Frontage: Minimum of 2,500 Sq. Ft.

Total Retail: Minimum of 12,000 Sq. Ft.

Second Floor Office Space:

Maximum of 10,000 Sq. Ft. with the following permitted uses: Bank, Commercial and Saving, Brewery, Brewpub, Café, Child Care Center, Community Center, Co-Working, Creative Studio, Demonstration Kitchen, Educational or Instructional Use, Fast-Food Restaurant, Museum, Personal Service, Public Use, Recreational Instruction, Restaurant, Retail Market, Retail Sale, Retail Service, Tavern, Theater Indoor, Wellness Center, Any combination of the above permitted uses

Key Design Considerations:

Access to rear storefronts of existing structures within the block shall be maintained. Public parking and alleyway shall be constructed on-grade with ground floor of structures within the block.

“Shadowbox” style display installation and landscaping shall be installed at ground level along Vose Ave to activate and screen interior parking;

Grade Level Setbacks: Along South Orange Avenue, the building façade shall not be setback from the property line. Along Vose Avenue, the building shall be setback a minimum of 2’-6”. Along Taylor Place, the building façade shall be setback from the property line a minimum of 3’-6” at the corner of Taylor Place and Vose Avenue for no more than 15% of the façade. The remandor of the Taylor Place façade will be setback a minimum of 4’-6”.

Upper Story Step-Backs: Along South Orange Avenue, the third story (first residential story) will be set back 10 feet from the ground-floor façade. Along Taylor Place, the top floor (5th floor) will be set back six (6) feet from the prominent groundfloor façade. Along Vose Avenue, the top floor (5th floor) will be set back minimum of 25 feet from the ground-floor façade, excluding stair bulkheads.

Public Parking Facility:

Redeveloper shall construct a parking garage containing a minimum of 70 public parking spaces (68 standards; two (2) accessible;

10% of public spaces shall accommodate electric vehicle charging.

Public parking operations shall be managed pursuant to a Public Parking Agreement, as described below.

Minimum Parking Reqs.

Redevelopment Plan will exempt proposed retail floor area from minimum parking standards so long as on-site facility is maintained at number of spaces contemplated herein.

Office parking shall be provided at one (1) space/333 SF. A minimum of ten spaces dedicated on-site. On-site office parking may be configured within five “tandem” Stalls (ten total spaces) to be reserved for office tenants but will be located within the public component of the proposed parking facility. Remainder of spaces to be provided in public facilities through existing employee permitting system.

Residential parking shall be provided within a dedicated area of the proposed parking facility at a rate of 1.1 spaces/dwelling unit or a total of 121 spaces for 110 units. Up to 45% of residential spaces may be designed at “compact” dimensions. At least 10% of spaces shall accommodate electric vehicle charging.

A minimum of 20 indoor bicycle parking spaces shall be provided in a secure area for building tenants. A total of 18 bicycle parking spaces shall be provided for public use with six (6) located within the public parking garage; six (6) located within public alleyway; and six (6) located on-street, along either Vose Avenue or South Orange Avenue.

Public Land Acquisition:

$1.3M

Public Improvement Contribution:

$700,000 contribution from redeveloper to municipality for purposes of funding off-site capital improvements and associated costs.

Public Parking Agreement:

Village and/or its designee will manage public parking operations.

Redeveloper shall propose allocation of costs and responsibilities for installation and operation of electric vehicle charging systems.

Nature of rights to the “reserved” spaces for office use shall be outlined in Parking Agreement.

Parking agreement will describe allocation of spaces among various user groups including, but not limited to, general public parking and permitted employee parking.

Operations of the public facility shall comply with terms and conditions outlined in the settlement between Village and Wainco Realty. (settlement agreement attached for reference)

Community Retail Agreement:

Village will lease storefront space at $1.00 per annum NNN for a minimum term of 25 years (i.e. term of financial agreement).

At termination of 25-year lease agreement, Village will have right-of-first-refusal for a 5-year lease at market rate rent with option for one 5-year extension. Financial agreement, however, is not subject to extension. Include a 12 month written notice of its intent to exercise option with a proposed base rent. ‘Final-offer’ arbitration for rent in the event landlord and tenant cannot agree. Tenant responsible for operating expenses and real estate taxes during any option term (NNN).

Construction Management Agreement:

Will address construction hours, noise, access, loading, circulation, cleaning, and other impacts during project construction.

Attractive advertising/marketing wrap/banner shall be located on construction fence. (All required authorizations to install banner/signage will be provided in RDP/RDA)

Utilities:

All utilities will be underground/internal; related specifications/design will be submitted with RDA and PB application

Water infrastructure will include backflow valves, individual metering, and pressure regulator / reducer valves. Separate Fire and Domestic systems and all other related fire codes.

RDA shall require redeveloper to inspect existing 5’ underground storm pipe prior to commencement of construction and after completion. Redeveloper will be responsible for any damage to pipe during construction period.

Emergency Communications:

A State P25 antenna shall be included in the building to allow the Villages Public Safety Departments to operate and maintain clear radio signal coverage throughout the structure.

Loading + Circulation:

Redeveloper shall provide Village with a complete traffic impact study that identifies, among other things, any requirements improvements or modification to the public right-of-way. Traffic study shall also address turning movements, geometry, flow and congestion along surrounding roadways.

Subject to recommendations within required traffic study, redeveloper shall install a dedicated loading zone to be located along Taylor Place.

Subject to recommendations within required traffic study, redeveloper may be responsible for removal of on-street parking on eastern side of Vose Avenue.

Alleyway at Taylor Place shall be designed to accommodate loading to accommodate both on-and-off-site business operations.

Public Improvements:

Public amenities and landscaping shall be designed by a licensed Landscape Architect, approved by the municipality and will utilize best practices established within Redevelopment Plan for sustainability, aesthetics, placemaking, safety and accessibility.

On-site improvements shall include construction of Alleyway, walkways, installation of lighting, and landscaping.

Off-site improvements shall include public sidewalks with associated lighting, landscaping.

MEMORANDUM

To: Board of Trustees of the Township of South Orange Village

From: South Orange Development Committee

Date: October 21, 2019

Re: Residential mixed-use development proposed by HUB Realty near the Northeast corner of South Orange Ave. and Vose Ave.

The Development Committee (DC) met on September 25, 2019 with Bruce Stieve AIA of Marchetto, Higgins, Stieve, the architect for the proposed development referred to above. This was the latest of several meetings since 2016 between the DC and the owner and/or architect.

Mr. Stieve presented the latest iteration of the development which proposes a 5 to 6-story, 110- unit residential development situated above approximately 9,600 square feet of ground floor retail space fronting South Orange Ave. and 3,110 square feet fronting Vose Ave., together with a 9,000 square foot office component on the second floor with a lobby on Vose Ave.

Off-street parking will accommodate 80 public parking spaces at the same level as the adjacent retail, replacing the 57 spots in the existing Taylor Place lot. The building tenants will use 125 below-grade parking spaces (ratio of apartments to parking of 1.14). The project will also include an off-street loading zone on Taylor Place, and will maintain pedestrian access between Taylor Pl. and South Orange Ave. as well as access to the rear of the existing retail and commercial facilities situated on the corner of South Orange Ave. and Scotland Rd. The loading zone should be designed to minimize congestion in this densely trafficked area.

The architect reported that a large (6’ in diameter) underground drain pipe that bisects the property on the east-west direction was discovered during surveying, and described the technical challenges associated with designing the building around this obstruction. The discovery of the drain pipe accounted in part for the significant delay by the developer in moving this project forward.

At the September 25 meeting, Village President Collum explained (to the extent that such ongoing negotiations can be made public) the affordable housing, PILOT program and other public contributions the proposed project will make.

The DC supports the project for the following reasons:

1. The project and its location in the downtown will add to the vibrancy of the Village center, with a residential population that will support local businesses.

2. The project will provide substantial new retail space for restaurants and other anchor tenants — 9,600 square feet on South Orange Ave. and 3,110 on Vose Ave. The project also includes “incubator” space for public use and local start-up businesses that will be 2 operated by the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) or another nonprofit organization. Though the DC believes the incubator space could be an important addition to the Village, it is an initiative requested by the Village as part of the overall redevelopment plan which has not been evaluated by the DC.

3. The project will add 23 public parking spaces (parking will increase from 57 to 80 spots) on Taylor Place and will include a sufficient number of tenant parking spaces (125). The building will also include electric vehicle charging stations and secure, indoor bicycle parking for tenants.

4. The project will help the Village achieve its affordable housing obligations; the 20% requirement will be satisfied with 10% on-site and 10% offsite through payments to the Village.

5. The project will provide 9,000 square feet of much-needed Class A office space in the Village.

6. The proposed design, despite being bulkier and taller than any building in the Village, does a good job of mitigating its size through generally well-conceived facades, setbacks and use of materials. South Orange Ave. is a wide right-of-way and can accommodate a building of this size and height. This project reflects a transit-oriented approach to redevelopment, which would put the tallest buildings at the center of town, closest to the train station. As such, the DC believes the height of the building is appropriate. The adjacent building, “Avenue at South Orange,” is slightly lower in height. The proposed design is also attractive because it has four facades (fronting South Orange Ave., Vose Ave., Taylor Place and looking down South Orange Ave. from Scotland Road), so that no one side of the building looks like a rear entrance.

The design proposal is not final, however, and the DC and other members of the public in attendance expressed the following concerns and made the following suggestions:

1. The proposed residential parking ingress/egress will be located on Vose Ave. The intersection of Vose Ave. and South Orange Ave. is already subject to heavy congestion on Vose Ave. due to the existing volume of traffic, proximity of traffic signals on South Orange Ave. (which could be adjusted to improve timing) and crosswalks both east and west of the intersection of Vose and South Orange Avenues. A thorough traffic study encompassing the entire project area (including South Orange Ave., Vose Ave. and Taylor Place) must be conducted with special attention given to this condition. Measures such as the elimination of some street parking at the south end of Vose Ave., the elimination of one of the crosswalks across South Orange Ave. at Vose Ave., traffic signal type and timing, the creation of a dedicated turning lane (either left or right) from Vose Ave. onto South Orange Ave. and/or making Taylor Pl. a one-way street should be considered. Subject to the traffic study, the DC believes that only right turns (no left turns) should be permitted onto Vose Ave. from the tenant parking area.

2. To enliven the streetscape, retail display windows should be located along South Orange Ave. and Vose Ave. to the greatest extent possible.

3. Rooftop HVAC equipment should be screened from view. Though not typically visible to pedestrians on the street, it may be possible to see HVAC equipment from other buildings.

4. The south facade of the building facing South Orange Avenue appears too monumental, symmetrical and formal. Attention should be given to design strategies that will mitigate the bulk of this side of the building and better integrate the design holistically with Spiotta Park across the street. The DC believes the designs for the other sides of the building, located on Vose Ave. and Taylor Pl., better fit the streetscape. On these streets, the architect breaks up the facades with different materials (masonry, brick, zinc, etc.), which creates visual interest and reduces the impact of the building’s bulk. The DC discussed whether use of some materials, particularly zinc on the Vose Ave. side was too bold, and whether a similar palette (and perhaps less zinc), in a manner more sympathetic to the architecture of South Orange, should be considered. Members of the DC had different opinions on this point, and the DC will work with the architect as design continues. It was also noted that the top story on Vose Ave., though not seen from street level, will be visible from other areas in South Orange, and therefore should include more detail.

5. The “interior” facade of the building, along the alley that will connect South Orange Avenue and Taylor Pl., should be finished to a high standard (at least to the same level as the other sides of the building) to make the alley a welcoming, viable public space, with attractive lighting and other elements. The developer should also consider widening the alley at its narrowest points to achieve this. The interior facade will be visible to pedestrians and to tenants from some adjacent buildings.

The DC is confident that the owner and architect can adequately address these concerns, and looks forward to receiving contextual renderings from the architect and reviewing the project in its proposed next form.

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