With prayers and shovels, Jong Hoon Park and his wife Eun Sook Park broke ground Tuesday at the South Street site of Golden Cleaners.
It took them three years to win local and state approvals to relocate from 173 Washington Street, where they have rented space for 24 years, to a vacant lot at 130 South St. that once was proposed as a home for the Bicycling Hall of Fame. They are hoping construction will be completed in May.
The Parks always dreamed of owning their own building, said Steve Ko, their equipment consultant.
Although the town planning board granted unanimous approval in 2010, it expressed lingering concerns about dry cleaning traffic at the mid-block location, across South Street from the Cottage II restaurant and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The town Historic Preservation Commission also had some reservations about the proposed design, which clashes with the 1920s and 1930s buildings around it, according to one member.
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Jong shelved plans for a drive-through feature, promised to use “green” design elements, and offered free nighttime use of 15 parking spaces to patrons of nearby restaurants and the Mayo Performing Arts Center.
“We wish him continued success. We’re glad he stayed in Morristown, and I’m sure his customers are glad,” said Mayor Tim Dougherty, who braved bitterly cold winds along with his wife Mary to attend the brief ceremony.
Next month, Suzi’s Salon Spa is scheduled to move next door, into the former home of Pereaux Interior Design, from its present South Street location. The Mayor predicted Suzi’s will mean new customers for the Parks, who will be competing with at least four dry cleaners nearby.
“We do our best!” Jong, 70, said in halting English. He emigrated from South Korea in 1971 and resides in Randolph, said his pastor, the Rev. David Kang of the Gospel Presbyterian Church in Parsippany.
The minister delivered an invocation for a gathering that included the Parks’ attorney, Robert Nish; architect Paul Sionas; Mortimer O’Shea and Paul Eilbacher, the president and vice president, respectively of Hilltop Community Bank; and builder Jack Finn.