Big Changes Coming To Bloomfield Ave. Property

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A developer is looking to build a large retail complex with apartments adjacent to Everett Field. The complex would be built on two pieces of property, 176 and 200 Bloomfield Avenue, which is at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Westview Road.

The current plan calls for 7,000 square feet of  retail space with 14 apartments over them and 63 parking spaces. About half of the parking spaces would be on Bloomfield Avenue and the rest at the back of the site, which will be largely leveled for the project. The apartments will be rentals with two bedrooms and two baths in all units. Seven of the units will also have loft spaces above. Architect’s drawings depict an upscale facade covered in brick with limestone accents and a roof with French-style dormer windows.

The red lines indicate the rough boundaries of the two lots, which are bounded by Bloomfield Avenue and Westview Road.

Developer Dennis Handel says that, although he does not expect to break ground on the project until spring 2013, he already has had inquiries from several retail tenants. “There’s been no new construction on Bloomfield Avenue in Verona, so people are interested in this,” he says.

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The 7,000 square feet of space would make the project roughly the size of the Valente complex further west on Bloomfield Avenue that is now home to 7-Eleven, Lapels, PostNet and the new Anthony Robert Salon. Handel could lease his space to one tenant or create subdivisions for multiple occupants. If the Verona project begins on schedule, occupancy would be in 2014. And while Handel is a new developer to Verona, he is not new to construction. Handel says he has built 120 single-family homes over the past 35 years, priced at between $350,000 and $4 million.

The 176-200 Bloomfield Avenue site is a large, sloping L-shape tract that backs up to Montclair Avenue, a dead-end street. The development plan would not open Montclair Avenue to through traffic, something that residents there have opposed for decades.

The plan, does, however call for eliminating much of the site’s current slope. The Victorian farmhouse on 200 Bloomfield Avenue will be demolished and some 75 trees will be removed so that the site can be leveled. The site will then be bordered by a series of retaining walls, some nearly 30 feet high. There will be an entrance and exit on Bloomfield Avenue, and an exit onto Westview. The plan does not call for a traffic light at Westview, where it is often difficult to make a left onto Bloomfield Avenue because the curve of the current retaining wall on the property obscures westbound traffic. Leveling the lot should eliminate those line of sight issues.

The plan largely conforms to the zoning requirements for the properties, which were classified “Extended Town Center” under Verona’s new master plan. Several variances will, however, come before the Board of Adjustment at its Thursday, June 14, meeting. The meeting will be held in the ballroom at the Community Center beginning at 8 p.m., and it is free and open to the public.

If approved, the Handel development could add to the car and foot traffic for businesses at the eastern end of Bloomfield Avenue. It could also provide a much needed kick to the redevelopment of several other properties in Verona, such as the former iHOP site, the former Poekel Travel Bureau building near the Verona Community Center and the vacant lots across from the Richfield Regency.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

17 COMMENTS

  1. It will totally destroy our neighborhood. There are only 14 houses on our block. Try making the turn onto Westview from Claremont. That’s a very tight turn, especially when the residents of the street park their cars. How many renters/shoppers will pull out of Westview at rush hour? I am not having my commute or errand running extended by one minute for 15K in property taxes. Oh, yes, this development will hurt my property value and all my neighbors. I already spoke with a realtor. Currently, the VBSL asks parents to drop their children off on Westview for safety. I guess that is now over. Small children live and play on our quiet street. Obviously we won’t be able to do that any more. What about the property owner on Westview with a dumpster to be located 15 ft. from her kitchen? What about the demise of the gorgeous copper beech? Mr. Handel should spend a few days in our neighborhood, not in Sparta. Perhaps these dream tenants should pursue other locations for their nail salons, banks, and dry cleaners. How many children will live in these rentals? The lofts planned for 7 of the apts. will certainly be used as a 3rd BR. The neighborhood school, Laning, is already at maximum capacity. When we purchased our home on the quiet, narrow, one-way lane, we never knew we would eventually be subjected to commercial chaos on our street. Car and foot traffic? That is wrong. Attract the right businesses, not nail salons. Isn’t it green to use what we already have? A lovely commercial lot sits empty right next to the park. Let Mr. Handel develop that location. I am sure Mr. Handel is aware that the “new construction” on Bloomfield Ave sat vacant for years (7-11). Our neighborhood is livid and is planning on fighting this all the way.

  2. Due to the sheer scope of this proposed project, and because it borders many residential-zoned properties, there SHOULD be a much broader set-back between the proposed site, and the existing family homes.
    There is also great concern about the excavation process. Blasting would be loud, dangerous, disruptive and could easily damage area homes’ foundations, water supply and underground plumbing. In addition, the plans propose access to their property via Westview road….Westview Road is a narrow, curvy, treelined, RESIDENTIAL street, which often accomodates parking for sports events at the baseball field. Residents have no way out of their street, except for Bloomfield Avenue. There is NO WAY that this little street can accomodate that much traffic. NO WAY. Bloomfield Avenue should be the only access
    Lastly– There WILL be a large turnout for this meeting.

  3. CORRECTION TO ABOVE ARTICLE:
    “There will be an entrance and exit on Bloomfield Avenue, and an exit onto Westview.”

    The plans submitted to the Verona building department show that there will also be AN ENTRANCE FROM WESTVIEW ROAD. Walking up westview this past Saturday during the little league games I had to stop between two parked cars to let a passing car go by. This street has no sidewalks and is barely wide enough for a car to pass when another is parked on the street. Why does this project have to add traffic to the side street? If it is a Bloomfield Avenue address then why can’t the traffic stay on Bloomfield Avenue? The 2 properties south of the proposed site both have access, in and out, from Bloomfield Avenue. Instead of an ingress and egress on Westview Road Why not keep both on Bloomfield Avenue??? MORE MONEY??? More traffic studies???

  4. 14 two-3 bedroom apartments; two baths! Give me a break. We already have unbearable noise in this quadrant of Verona -garbaage pick up at the old Celantano sit; lights pointing outwards from the building all night; uncontrolled use of car horns from the Acura dealer, oft times going on at 4:00Am in the morning and continuing for an hour or more until the owner is located to shut off the horn. Don’t try to get out of the Celentano shopping complex going East in the day; how many near misses have occurred? Bloomfield Ave curves sharply at the location of this application making exiting the property a hazard. Others have described the problems with traffic on Westview; I won’t repeat them; they speak for themselves. The limited space between the gigantic wall and the residences on Montclair Ave is insufficent to screen this residential area from a loud and intrusive commercial development. This space should be at least 50 feet and large and fast growing trees would be needed to shield Montclair Avenue from this outlandish development. Verona doesn’t have enough green space as it is. Now is the time to STOP this development!

  5. I agree with all of the above…and I’m also a resident of the area. However, some non-locals should be concerned too. As pointed out by Sarah, VSBL has children dropped off in this area. If I was a Baseball or Softball parent, I’d be VERY concerned. This will definitely impact the integrity of Everett Field.

    Question: with so many open store fronts on Bloomfield Ave, why do we need to destroy more green? Just up the block there is space available in what used to be Celetanos. There are numerous vacancies around town…if businesses are not going in there, why will they go into this new devleopment? Or won’t they? And will be just have another eyesore strip mall while tree after tree has been sacrificed?

  6. It is terrible that Verona would consider tearing down trees and allow more development when there are empty buildings in town. Keep Verona green and get those empty buildings re-developed.

  7. I agree with you all. We should contact our Council Members today http://www.veronanj.org/government.php and ask them to work with the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment to protect Verona from over-development. And to re-develop empty buildings instead of paving our few green spaces!

  8. The project needs to be scaled way back. This development will ruin the environment in many ways for the people living in the adjoining and nearby homes.

  9. Awesome! Cant wait… I hope you all go to this meeting…If you dont want this to happen. you might fight it every step of the way! Dont forget that we need 1 more pizza place too!

  10. I agree with the above comments. Let new businesses occupy vacant space and leave the green space alone. Westview Rd. cannot handle the traffic. If there are apts. built there why can’t they be condos instead of rentals? We do not need more commercial space in this neighborhood.

  11. Don’t do it Verona.
    Westview Road and Montclair Avenue are lovely streets filled with good people who truly appreciate their quiet, unique neighborhood. Build up that land and you will tear down the oasis my good friends have spent years cultivating. And to what end? A few apartments, a pizza joint, and, natch, a nail salon… oh, and don’t forget, more traffic, noise, and the uncertainty of not knowing who, or what, will be calling these tax-paying residents “neighbor.”
    Don’t do it Verona.

  12. This historic lot should be preserved not destroyed. Certainly a facelift is needed, but not for retail/commercial use! Westview Rd. cannot physically take the additional expected foot and vehicle traffic that this new project will bring let alone what we presently get from the baseball/softball/football field. Pleas use another vacant lot! There are plenty to choose from! Thank you

  13. This is a terrible idea. Why clear a lot and develop new buildings when there are already empty lots and empty buildings that could be developed into new office and retail space?

  14. Neighbors were out at last night’s meeting, which went until nearly midnight. The board continue with the hearing on July 12th (and I don’t expect it to be over then either…these things can drag on for MONTHS).

    Just an FYI, I counted at least 6 spaces on Bloomfield Ave coming from Caldwell last night (and I turned on Malvern, so this does not include the spaces further up the road including the HUGE rental space in the former Celetano building). These developers can spend their money tearing down ALL the trees on the property (what an environmental loss), tearing down the retaining wall (blasting for all which will cause neighbors no end of headaches as well as drivers coming from Montclair on Bloomfield Ave) and then building. Who will fill these retail spaces? If we’ve got openings now who will come later? I think we all know the answer.

  15. I agree that this project is far too large in scale for this neighborhood & that the excavation & blasting required to level the lot would most likely damage the foundation & infrastructure of adjacent homes. Not to mention the destruction of an historic property, the destruction of old trees, the addition of traffic and noise and the danger of vehicular traffic in an area frequented by small children on Westview Rd & Everett Field.
    A good question here would be how many zoning variances are being requested by the developer?
    Zoning laws are put into effect to protect the quality of life for the community.
    For someone to request exception from these laws is to ask that residents turn a blind eye on their safety, so that another may have financial gain.
    This scenario is not fair & substantial objections exist which must be made known to those who have the authority to protect us.

  16. It has been over 9 months and our neighborhood is still trying to prevent this overdevelopment and destruction of the old Victorian farmhouse. Why are our town officials not helping us? Anyone who is against this proposal, PLEASE ATTEND the next board of adjustment and zoning meeting at the Verona Community Center at 7:30pm.

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