First Hearing On Mixed Use Complex Draws Big Crowd In Peapack-gladstone

May 30, 2014

This architectural rendering provides an aerial view of the mixed use development proposed for Main Street in Peapack-Gladstone called The Cottages at Vernon Manor. Plans for the 19-unit residential complex are currently before the borough’s Land Use Board.

PEAPACK-GLADSTONE – The developer of a proposed mixed-use redevelopment project on Main Street provided details of the project at the borough’s Land Use Board’s Wednesday, May 21, meeting.

Residents filled the municipal building’s courtroom to listen to the developer’s consultants give a nearly three-hour presentation on the project, called The Cottages of Vernon Manor.

The developer, 156 Main Gladstone, LP, is seeking several zoning variances for the 29,000-square-foot residential and retail project on approximately three acres at 156 and 158 Main St., located opposite of Liberty Pond.

Plans call for the construction of five new buildings which will contain 19 residential apartments. The developer has proposed to remove two homes that are currently located at the site.

The largest residential building will have eight units while the smallest building will have one unit. The other buildings will have three or four units.

All of the rentals will be studio or one-bedroom units, with the exception of the single unit which will have two bedrooms.

The project also will convert an existing barn into a commercial retail and storage space. The barn’s lower level will be converted into storage space for the tenants and a small office for maintenance and property management.

The upper level will house storage space and a small retail store for an unidentified furniture business.

The project also will include an open courtyard near the residential units on Main Street, tenant parking garages, a trash and recycling enclosure, the planting of trees, shrubs and grass, and 48 parking spaces.

‘Unmet Demand’

One of the consultants, Ronald Kennedy, a civil engineer, told the board that the developer chose the site to build this project because it addresses “unmet demand” of this type of a residential and retail mix.

He added that young professionals and couples who no longer have children living with them are being targeted as tenants for the residential development.

The project’s consultants said that Mark Mellilo, main partner of the project’s development firm, is committed to building an aesthetically pleasing development that retains the borough’s traditional village-style neighborhood.

Dave Minno, the project’s architect, said the project will be designed to give it an historic appearance that will blend in with the architecture of the borough and nearby towns.

“When the project is complete, it will look like that it’s been there for a long time,” Minno said.

Brian Bosenberg, the project’s landscape architect, told the board that some of the trees will be removed from the site for redevelopment purposes, but 49 shade trees and other vegetation will be planted throughout the property.

Some of the board members and residents expressed concerns over the size of signage to be located near the entrance on Main Street. They said that the sign showing the project’s name was either too large or unnecessary.

Bosenberg said that the developer will work with the town to allay any concerns about signage and will offer other alternatives at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 4.

The developer acquired the property last year after it was put back on the market by the owner, Park Manor Peapack, LLC, after the borough tried to purchase the tract.

In 2012, the borough approved an ordinance to acquire the property from Park Manor Peapack  for $1.45 million but did not go through with the deal after some residents who opposed the purchase launched a petition drive and collected enough signatures to hold a special election on the deal.

The seller then decided not to go through the lengthy process needed to hold a referendum on the issue, resulting in the Borough Council repealing the controversial purchase.

The borough wanted the land because its location near the municipal building would have provided flexibility for possible expansion.

But opponents sought to kill the town’s land acquisition over concerns that the borough would use the property for low-cost housing to meet state requirements on affordable housing.

– Marc Weinstein