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.
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.
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.