Flatiron-style building for Morristown? Market and Bank redevelopment plan up for vote, April 2

The red area is being proposed for a five-story triangular law office. Source: Market & Bank Redevelopment Plan, 2015.
The red area is being proposed for a five-story triangular law office. Source: Market & Bank Redevelopment Plan, 2015.
4

Ready for the Morristown version of New York’s famous Flatiron Building?

The Flatiron Building in New York. Photo: Wikipedia.org
The Flatiron Building in New York. Photo: Wikipedia.org

A developer is keen to erect a triangular office building for a law firm on a roughly half-acre wedge between Market and Bank Streets, town officials say.

Unlike the iconic 1902 structure, which looms 22 stories above Manhattan with 180,000 square feet of space, this one would be more modest: Five stories above Market Street, with about 45,000 square feet of offices.

Officials say it would bring some welcome improvements to the downtown’s gateway — a topographically challenging parcel that the town considers blighted — along with 150 office workers to dine and shop locally.

But before project plans are submitted, the town council must amend the 2005 Epstein’s redevelopment plan to allow this use.  The council may introduce an ordinance at a special meeting on Thursday, April 2, 2015, at 7 pm.

Modern triangular building. Source: Market & Bank Redevelopment Plan, 2015.
Modern triangular building. Source: Market & Bank Redevelopment Plan, 2015.

“We’ve created strategies to make a more livable gateway to Morristown that people can be proud of,” said the town’s planning consultant, Phil Abramson.

These strategies, outlined in an 80-page report,  would impose conditions on any developer of this elbow-shaped lot. They include creation of a sidewalk around the entire property, replacement of a spooky alley between Bank and Market with a friendlier passageway, and a prettier streetscape for pedestrians.

In exchange, Abramson explained, the developer would be permitted to place offices on the ground level of Market Street, a use not authorized under the original redevelopment plan.

That decade-old plan led to conversion of the Epstein’s department store into luxury condos, apartments and retail shops. Townhomes also were built in an Epstein’s parking lot on Maple Avenue, and more apartments are coming on DeHart Street, in front of the Morristown Parking Authority deck that enabled all the redevelopment.

PARKING, TRAFFIC AND TRASH

The DeHart deck, and another MPA garage at Ann and Bank streets, are essential to the Market/Bank buildout.  Employees in the proposed triangular offices would park in these facilities.

Traffic studies may be needed to determine how to simplify their rush-hour journeys to and from the garages, Abramson acknowledged. Any developer of the property could be required to contribute toward traffic improvements, he added.

The red area is being proposed for a five-story triangular law office. Source: Market & Bank Redevelopment Plan, 2015.
The red area is being proposed for a five-story triangular law office. Source: Market & Bank Redevelopment Plan, 2015.

Mayor Tim Dougherty is optimistic.  Most recent development in town has been residential, he said, but this piece should add a healthy mix.

“This law firm coming to the downtown will support businesses during the day. And it will have an effect on real estate. People like to live where they work,” said the Mayor.

Because details are pending, officials have not disclosed the name of the law firm or developer.

Council President Rebecca Feldman said much has been learned since this area first was designated for redevelopment, when she served on the planning board under former Mayor Jay DeLaney.

While the revised redevelopment plan presents “a great opportunity to improve car, bike and pedestrian access around and through these sites,” Feldman said more discussion of permitted uses and conditions is needed for Market/ Bank. She has questions about deliveries and garbage trucks being shoehorned into these tight spaces, and about impacts from the nearby bar scene.

“I hope the Administration can come prepared with suggestions to resolve these open issues so that we can move forward quickly and realize the great potential this area holds,” the council president said.

PARCELING OUT THE REDEVELOPMENT

The wedge is one of three contiguous parcels between Market and Bank streets — all earmarked for redevelopment — owned by Harry Simon, whose Simon Gallery sits in the middle parcel.

Simon declined to comment for this story.

This graffiti-strewn alley between Market and Bank streets would be replaced with something friendlier, under a revised redevelopment plan. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
This graffiti-strewn alley between Market and Bank streets would be replaced with something friendlier, under a revised redevelopment plan. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Abramson’s report only pertains to the wedge, “Parcel A.”  That tract includes the former Accents on Knitting shop, closed since December, a defunct florist shop and another shop vacant since about 1986, Abramson said.

Parcel B includes the gallery, a former Crossfit gym and the former London World salon. (Both moved to new locations.)  Parcel C has a long-vacant building that sustained a partial roof collapse under heavy snow last year.

As envisioned a decade ago, all three parcels were to be redeveloped as a single structure, either with 66 apartments or six-stories (measured from Bank Street, which is lower than Market) with 130,000 square feet of offices and 300 employees, Abramson said.

The town has taken steps that will allow it to offer incentives, such as payments in lieu of taxes and the sale of Redevelopment Area Bonds, to help developers build on a site that otherwise might pose too many expensive obstacles.

It was a much simpler neighborhood a century ago, according to Abramson’s report.

The town considers this wedge 'blighted'; it may become a triangular office building. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The town considers this wedge ‘blighted’; it may become a triangular office building. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Historically, the district around Bank Street was part of Morristown’s thriving livery trade. In the early 20th century the district was home to coach builders and livery stables,”  he wrote.

“At a fork in the road that may be as old as Morristown itself, new redevelopment will set the stage for new jobs, downtown living and amenities that will keep Morristown a competitive location into the next century,” the report contends.

 

This vacant Market Street storefront sustained heavy damage when a car sailed through it. The incident remains under investigation. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Demolition of this vacant Market Street knitting shop already started — albeit, unexpectedly, via a car crash in March 2015. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Collapsed roof of old building between Bank and Market streets in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Collapsed roof of old building between Bank and Market streets in Morristown. This structure, damaged by snow in 2014, is earmarked for redevelopment eventually. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

[interactive_copyright_notice float='left']
[icopyright_horizontal_toolbar float='right']

4 COMMENTS

  1. I have no idea if it is feasible, but why not make a condition of redevelopment include a covered open walkway between the parking garage on an upper level over to a walkway to market street. this and a stairway to bank street connected to it would make the entire area much more useful and being above bank street traffic, would ease the possible increase of pedestrian traffic on bank and probably the foot ann street as well. People could park in the garage and easily get to market street without stairs to climb. The current topography makes few people use the current stairs, and if you wanted to walk to court, you then would have to climb back up. This stops some restaurants in the expanded area from increasing sales, and would increase the parking lots use as well.

  2. Here is what the wisdom of Feng Shui has to say about triangular buildings: Feng Shui warns of inauspicious energy (or killing breath) that is caused by the presence of sharp pointed structures that channel bad Chi (energy). The offending arrow structure channels foul energy in straight lines, carrying with it ill fortune, negative consequences, legal disputes, financial loss and many other types of bad luck. The redevelopment agency should ask the developer to take proper precautions against the malevolent effects emanating from the proposed triangular building. And don’t forget about the Green Building Questionnaire adopted by ordinance by the Town Council in September, 2014.

LEAVE A REPLY