Morristown council gets preview of Bank-Market project; affordable units earmarked for MLK Avenue

Recessed entrance to apartment/retail redevelopment project proposed for Market Street. Rendering: Machetto Higgins Stieve.
Recessed entrance to apartment/retail redevelopment project proposed for Market Street. Rendering: Machetto Higgins Stieve.
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Recessed entrance to apartment/retail redevelopment project proposed for Market Street. Rendering: Machetto Higgins Stieve.
Recessed entrance to apartment/retail redevelopment project proposed for Market Street. Rendering: Marchetto Higgins Stieve.

By Kevin Coughlin

An apartment/retail complex contemplated for Market and Bank streets would feature a recessed entrance suited for café dining, loft-style windows and possibly, cheery lighting across Market Street to create a “festival character,” an architect told the Morristown council on Thursday.

Architect Dean Marchetto delivers presentation to Morristown council. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Architect Dean Marchetto delivers presentation to Morristown council. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“The idea is human-centered public spaces, with pedestrian-friendly streets,” Dean Marchetto said.

The five-story, 70,000-square-foot redevelopment project may include 55 apartments and 22,000-square-feet of street-level retail storefronts with a restaurant, according to Jacob Feldman, a principal in Millburn-based Vertical Realty Capital LLC, which is partnering with Stolar Capital of Hoboken.

Feldman’s team intends to return to the council next month for more discussions.

FROM ‘RUM ALLEY’ TO ‘GATEWAY’

The Vertical Realty group purchased two properties at 35-41 Market St. from gallery owner Harry Simon and his sister for $6.2 million last year. Tenants at the time included the Simon Gallery and a pair of fitness businesses. A warehouse, vacant since 1985, has a partially collapsed roof.

Two generations of developer family: From left, Joseph and Jacob Feldman. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Two generations of developer family: From left, Joseph and Jacob Feldman. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

If approved, Vertical’s plans will continue a redevelopment push intended to transform this former “Rum Alley” into the “Gateway to Morristown.”

The Hampshire realty company in Morristown paid the Simons $2.65 million last year for an adjacent parcel, in a neighborhood officials describe as blighted.

A triangular building under construction at that site is the future home of law firm Fox Rothschild.

Hampshire also is replacing a dilapidated alley with a pedestrian walkway linking Market and Bank streets.

An international hotel chain, meanwhile, expressed intentions in January to erect a 120-room Cambria hotel on the other side of the Vertical Realty properties, closer to the historic Morristown Green.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Vertical aims to meet its affordable housing obligation by paying $800,000 to Morris  Habitat for Humanity, to create 10 affordable condos at 43-47 Martin Luther King Ave.

Habitat will use the money to buy a project under construction at that MLK location, said Habitat CEO Blair Schleicher Bravo.

“We’re very excited. It will be great to give folks the opportunity to own their own homes,” Bravo said.

The affordable housing will look like this, on MLK Avenue. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The affordable housing will look like this, on MLK Avenue. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Thursday’s  presentation gave the council its first look at 3D visualizations of the Vertical project, which calls for a fitness center, communal room, barbecue area and, maybe, greenhouses, on the roof.

Rendering of proposed rooftop of Market/Bank redevelopment. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Rendering of proposed rooftop of Market/Bank redevelopment. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“I think the renderings are incredible,” said town Planner Phil Abramson. “It’s just a better version of what was approved in 2005″ in a town redevelopment plan.

“It’s a very small, tight site,” the planner added. “There’s not a ton of room for creative moves. The architect found ways to be creative.”

Morristown Planner Phil Abramson listens to Bank/Market presentation. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Planner Phil Abramson listens to Bank/Market presentation. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“We want to see it become a destination in Morristown, a place my family can be proud of for years,” said Feldman, a third-generation developer with degrees from Columbia University and Harvard Law School. “We’re improving on what’s been a blighted area.”

Feldman’s father, Joseph, accompanied him to Thursday’s presentation. The family has built 1,000 homes in New Jersey over the last three decades and operates another 1,400 apartments in the Garden State, plus three hotels in Massachusetts, according to Jacob Feldman.

What will rents be like at Market and Bank?

“Whatever the market will bear,” Feldman said. “We’re not looking to set any new records.”

MARKET STREET NOW...  Photo courtesy Dean Marchetto
MARKET STREET NOW… Photo courtesy Dean Marchetto
MARKET STREET PROPOSED. Rendering courtesy of Dean Marchetto
…MARKET STREET, PROPOSED. Rendering courtesy of Dean Marchetto

 

BANK STREET NOW...  Photo courtesy of Dean Marchetto
BANK STREET NOW… Photo courtesy of Dean Marchetto
BANK STREET, PROPOSED. Rendering courtesy of Dean Marchetto.
…BANK STREET, PROPOSED. Rendering courtesy of Dean Marchetto.
AERIAL VIEW OF BANK STREET, 2016. Photo courtesy of Dean Marchetto
AERIAL VIEW OF BANK STREET, 2016. Photo courtesy of Dean Marchetto
Rendering of pedestrian walkway, as viewed from Market Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, april 14, 2016
Rendering of pedestrian walkway, as viewed from Market Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

Rendering of future pedestrian walkway, as seen from Bank Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Rendering of future pedestrian walkway, as seen from Bank Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Rendering of café envisioned for Market Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, april 14, 2016
Rendering of café envisioned for Market Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

Rendering of view from redeveloped Market Street property looking across at the Metropolitan apartments. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, april 14, 2016
Rendering of view from redeveloped Market Street property looking across at the Metropolitan apartments. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Hooray, a 6th luxury apartment building in Morristown, just what we need, further ensuring that anyone who makes under $80k a year is pushed out of the area. And of course they’re not limiting it to Morristown! The same developers bought a building in Chatham that had affordable rents, and are currently in the process of pushing out the current tenants with absurd rent increases (we’re talking close to 50% increases for some tenants). Greed at it’s finest!

  2. I really don’t think that’s the right move for that part of town. Right now it’s a relatively quite area surrounded by some very questionable housing units, opening up public space will draw out the undesirables in the area.

  3. Spring and Morris REALLY needs help. The north side of Morris Street and Spring to MLK should be completely redeveloped.

  4. Anyone know of the plans for Spring & Morris? I’ve heard about plans for 10 years but is everyone just spinning their wheels?

  5. @beth

    I don’t see too many empty spaces in downtown Morristown? There is only 2 spaces left for 40 park retail and South Street never has vacant space

  6. Blighted is South Bronx. Morristown merchants can’t afford rent. So more empty spaces is a solution?

  7. @Beth

    Yes, the building with no roof would be considered blighted by pretty much anyone. These developments are what is driving Morristown’s renaissance. Without Epsteins and many other developments, there would be no crowds of people walking around town like there is now. All of these new restaurants are driving this change that is vital to Morristown.

  8. Blighted? Are you kidding me? Some of Morristown’s longest residents appreciate its historical flavor. When Epsteins closed boutique shops were supposed to open up giving us a flavor of what had gone. Retailers can’t afford space – why do we need more? This plan takes Morristown in a direction that is in direct opposition of what brought me amd many others here.

  9. I agree with J – I wish this would start today! Love these plans so far. Amazing. I cannot wait to see Morristown become the Urban core it is meant to be.

  10. Have any traffic studies been done? Curious about a pedestrian mall at the entrance to Morristown, which also happens to be a major auto access to Morristown. Also curious as to why this site was worth 3X the Hampshire site. Hope to be at the next presentation.

  11. Opening up the streetscape should include more than just cafe space of which there is plenty in Motwn. It’s also the chance to add protected bike lanes and continue Morristown’s progress towards being one of the most bike and walk friendly communities in the State. More bikes also lead to more financial support for local business as study after study has shown.

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