Videos: Here is the ‘M Station’ office project pitch for Morristown strip mall

Architect's rendering of M Station, from presentation of June 13, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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To recap: Developers on Thursday proposed replacing Cluck U Chicken, Macho Nacho and a bunch of other businesses in a Morris Street strip mall with nearly 400,000 square feet of offices and new shops.

One building would stand eight stories, the other, six stories. Behind them, a 1,000-space, five level parking garage. A tree-lined promenade and plaza are proposed–along with a “roundabout” (traffic circle, if you prefer) at Morris and Spring Street.

The project is called “M Station,” and much of it is allowed under the town’s 2008 Spring Street redevelopment plan.

Here are videos of the entire pitch to the Morristown council, which doubles as the town redevelopment authority.  Take a look, and let us know what you think.

 

The Roundabout: An animation of projected traffic flow at Morris and Spring streets:

Town Planner: Overview of Spring Street redevelopment history, and potential of M Station:

Morristown Town Planner Phil Abramson gives an overview of Spring Street redevelopment plan, and brief intro of ‘M Station’ office proposal to replace the Midtown Shopping Center strip mall with corporate headquarters.

 

Project Attorney:  M Station will boost downtown businesses, solve traffic bottleneck:

Frank Vitolo, the lawyer representing SJP Properties and Scotto Properties, makes the case for the M Station office project and his “all-star team.”

 

Developer: Time to live/work/play in Morristown:

“We are not a fly-by-night developer,” says Peter Bronsnick of SJP Properties.

Architect: ‘We’re creating a destination’:

Architect Roger Smith of the firm Gensler describes his vision of “creating a destination…and a sense of place” with M Station.

 

Traffic engineers:  Roundabout will keep traffic moving:

Traffic engineers Karl Pehnke and Matt Seckler explain a traffic circle proposed for Morris / Spring Street intersection as part of ‘M Station’ office project.

 

Architect: Rooftops and Revitalization:

Gensler architect Roger Smith returns to talk rooftop terraces, revitalization, and “optimism and growth.”

 

Project Planner: Strip mall is ‘blank canvas’ for overdue redevelopment:

Planner Paul Phillips, who wrote Morristown’s 2008 Spring Street redevelopment plan, lists market factors that have delayed redevelopment — and contends timing finally is right to “do something distinctive” with a strip mall he calls a “blank canvas.”

Council Questions: A statue for the Mayor?

Council members respond to M Station pitch. Robert Iannaccone wonders about the combined traffic impact of multiple projects. Stefan Armington says eight stories may not fly with the public. Michael Elms proposes cantilevered upper floors, to make the facade look less monolithic. And yes, Alison Deeb suggests a statue of Mayor Tim Dougherty in the middle of the roundabout

 

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25 COMMENTS

  1. @ Janet. Honest questions in my opinion – but I would suggest what is currently there does not fulfill many or even a few of your concerns noted there. Certainly not impressive driving through or getting off the train to see a dated strip mall and large parking lot.

    To your point, I also wouldn’t mind having the developers spend a bit more money to create a more interesting looking facade to the building – its a good idea but making it look historical may better reserved for actual historic buildings to create a mix of modern and historic pieces in town. Such as if the Post Office building on the green were to be sold and converted into something like apartments above and restaurant on the bottom, they can restore the front of original Post Office building and have an awesome themed restaurant inside of it.

  2. There are many issues involved in this proposed development, as far as I have observed. –
    * Will the proposed building and landscaping beautify the area, or simply add more ugly / bland buildings and tarmac to M’Town? (The Highlands is an unfortunate example of bland/ugly architecture that should not have been approved – M’town should have held out for a more beautiful style of architecture that would have blended with the existing colonial and heritage style of Morristown.)
    * Will green construction techniques be used? Will the development use solar energy / green building / roof garden and other newer solutions?
    * Will the proposed roundabout simply reroute traffic to other streets and cause traffic problems on these other streets?
    * Does the town have a contract or commitment from Deloitte? What does the commitment include specifically?
    * When I get off the train at the Morristown Station, will the view of this new development and the area in general make me feel “wow! what a great town, with all this history, architectural integrity and beauty, and great outdoor spaces – I sure would love to live here!!!” Or will it make me think “jeez – someone sold out here – surely these people and town residents could have done better than this!”

    Janet I. Hoch

  3. Tony, thanks. I’m sorry to hear about your personal experience with an employee of the developer but I don’t want that to cloud the judgement of why this is a good or bad idea. IMO, we need a office project of larger scale such as this in order to attract larger corporations to provide jobs within walking distance to residential homes which leads to more people walking around and a higher energy in downtown like when there is Meet Me in Morristown nights. A small office building under 75k square feet wouldn’t suffice for them. We also need to expand the green area. I am with you the pedestrian element should be first and foremost, working with the developers to provide large pedestrian walkways, outdoor seating areas, unique restaurants, nice landscape, etc etc all around the new complex.

  4. To follow up.

    Connor, I appreciate you’ve lived here a long time and think this development is a great idea. I’ve lived in Morristown off and on since the mid-60s. Even before the “urban renewal” zone divided the town in two and destroyed much of the downtown shopping district, and before 287 isolated a whole section of town.

    The town’s history for the last 50 years has been driven by politicians who foster development of land on behalf of landowners. Small towns are small enough that it’s easy to get away with shady schemes because no one has the time to investigate.

    I am totally in favor of redeploying that shopping center, but not for a 10 story development and a traffic circle. It’s been a mistake since it opened, but two wrongs won’t make it right.

    The developers of this deal don’t seem to be considering the street level implications, and I know there’s a lot of entitled arrogance among them.

    Since one of the Gensler partners tried to run me off the road on the Green last year in his black A8 after charging out of Water St from the right turn only lane, then raced through the red light at the corner of Wahington St, forcing two pedestrians to jump back to the curb, (I circled back, found his car, and took pictures of it in a Gensler space) it’s been clear to me anyway that developers in big black cars are far superior to me.

    That development is a great idea, and the principled characters behind it will ensure that all promises are kept. They always do.

  5. @Michele – Morristown still has the same the number of liquor licenses. No additional licenses have been added. Through license transfers several are now located within downtown. Where before many were not.

    The town has not added any new licenses.

  6. @ Matt, completely agree. Also, I don’t see anything quaint or lovely about a dated strip mall and large exposed parking lot. It’s not like this is going in place of a lovely green-like space, or Washington’s old house. Morristown needs an expansion of life after 5pm, and a large corporate building with people working all hours of day with shops and restaurants underneath seem wonderful. Outside of the immediate green right now, most storefronts are dark and empty after business hours.

    And everyone concerned about the parking, there is a planned large parking deck hidden behind the Grasshopper that should assist with this. You cannot achieve a live work play environment if you never take the step to bring in large employers within walking distance to homes/apts….

  7. When I think of Morristown, “quaint” and “lovely” aren’t the words that come to mind. Lambertville, Oldwick, etc., yes. Not Morristown. And that’s a good thing.

  8. @Michelle & Karen stop being so dramatic. Morristown is still lovely, quaint and rich with history

  9. I hate that our lil lovely historical town is turning into a big ugly building infested city. At a certain point we will have reached our threshold of traffic and people and there will be no return. We’ve lost the quaint environment-friendly town we once had. Now it’s about parking and taller buildings and more bars and banks than any town should ever have. Those of us who have been life long residents have seen our town grow exponentially… And sometimes growing too fast could be a death sentence. I used to want to “go back home” but now it seems the town has out-grown me. The comfortable, safe, historically-rich town no longer exists.
    Well-done (sarcastically said) Morristown… I guess it time to move on. 🙁

  10. Ironically, virtually every slot in that doomed shopping center holds a vibrant business, while so many of the properties on the Green continue to languish (or are banks, which do nothing for street life after 5 p.m.)..

  11. Who PUTS IN traffic circles in this day and age, especially un controlled ones? The “courtesy gap” exists primarily in the minds of developers and their pad traffic experts. And realistically; this is New Jersey. People have cars; they drive. If they didn’t, parking wouldn’t be such an issue in this town. And have these developers (who, I am sure, live nowhere near here) been on Morristown’s streets during the extended morning or evening rush hours? I’m pretty sure very few of us moved here because we wanted to live in Hoboken or Jersey City, yet that’s now what’s being forced on us. I’d also like to say that development projects here could take a lesson from how they’re done in Summit, where development is respectful of the existing city’s aesthetic and architectural flavor (including height restrictions) AND includes substantial amounts of meaningful public input throughout the process.

  12. I’m not sure the “round about” would solve the current traffic issues the town already has, in that area. Let alone adding 1000 more cars and however many more pedestrians to the area. Why can’t Deloitte rent vacant Class A office space on Mt Kemble? Promote the growth of our town outwards. Not upward. Disperse the traffic outward. Not centralize it.

  13. John, I lived here for years and think this would be a wonderful addition, as do many others. Not sure what you’re talking about.

  14. @John I live here and have for the past 5 years. I think it is a GREAT idea. That shopping center is a waste of land and is outdated. This office project would be a huge boost to the town… And what are you talking about about height. Headquarters towers over Morristown and that’s been there for decades!

  15. I think it’s a great idea if you’re on the planning board or one of Dougherty’s friends. (I’m curious to understand why my comment from yesterday was deleted). Pedestrian access and rights are under assault in this town, as is the idea of building to scale. If the town is turned into a series of Lafayette and Madison Avenues, then there won’t be any town left to speak of. You want Parsippany? Go to Parsippany. You want 10 story buildings? Go east. But Morristown should not harbor these dreams. In fact, I imagine no one who lives here thinks this plan has any merit. The traffic circle is just about the stupidest proposal for an urban flow solution I have ever heard of. Without lights to manage it? Absurd. Two blocks from the green? Well there is the Darwin Award winner for 2019.

  16. Matt S., you’re saying that the site is not downtown? It’s not on the green, but it is downtown. I have an idea:

  17. @Scott it is a total waste of valuable land. Those shops can move into the downtown area if they want

  18. For the people saying parking will be awful – you cant assume everyone will be driving to work. The only way to achieve a live work and play atmosphere is to have large employment centers close to the town centers. Right now we do not. The only one we have now is HQ plaza. If this building attracts Deloitte to town and other companies, many young professionals will live in the towns new housing and walk or bike to work, and do the same heading to shops and restaurants. A 1000 space garage is a plenty large accommodation for an in between.

  19. That mall is busy and popular. Why does it need redevelopment ? I’ve been going to the Burger King there since it opened in March of 1979.

  20. @Jimmy — more and more people are talking about how corrupt that issue with your business has become. The public is on your side

  21. Two capable developers will build a class A development. Office will certainly help the daytime activity. Ironic how the Mayor and council can get behind this massive project and reject a 60 seat Mexican restaurant where restaurants existed for years.

  22. Thats insane! Traffic is bad enough and this is a nice town but we do not want to become a large city. Maybe half that size would be ok?

  23. 400,000sf and only 1,000 parking spaces? If you can weed through the cartoon of an ordinance of the Town, this falls short by 400 parking spaces at 3.5/1000sf. Why cant we have any development be constructed per the Code and provide proper parking? We’re only creating future problems when places sit empty because parking is problematic

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