Developer Larry Mandelbaum presented preliminary plans for the redevelopment of the strip of buildings along Broad and Liberty Streets at last night’s Bloomfield council conference meeting.
The area, which includes the buildings that housed Annie Sez, Burgess Chemist and the Liberty Theater (once a Masonic Lodge) on the corner of Broad and Liberty Streets, will be transformed into a new mixed-use residential and retail development. Mandelbaum said it will complement the planned Bloomfield College dormitory/retail development across the street, which was recently approved by the Planning Board.
Mandelbaum stated that his company has been very committed to Bloomfield and had been successfully developing properties in town for over three decades. He said his company had recently redeveloped the plaza on Broad Street that comprises Quick Chek, the Liquor Locker and Investors Bank. He also pointed out that his company bought the old Lipton’s Department Store and successfully converted it to Annie Sez, and had converted a W.T. Grant store into a Mandee’s clothing store.
The architect then presented the preliminary plans and elevations showing the design of the buildings. The retail portion of the development will occupy 10,000 to 20,000 square feet on the ground floor, with between 124 and 140 residential units above. These apartments will be mostly one and two-bedroom units, possibly with some studio apartments, ranging in size from 700 to 1,100 square feet. The buildings will consist of mixed architectural styles and varied materials, including brick and limestone. He stated that the site would have 104 parking spaces.
A redevelopment plan for the property had been approved by the mayor and council in August of 2012. The plans presented last evening comply with the town’s redevelopment guidelines, according to Mandelbaum. Further details about the plans will be provided when they are finalized.
The conference room was filled to capacity with residents and volunteers concerned about the fate of the Bloomfield Animal Shelter, which was also on last evening’s agenda.
The shelter has been at the center of various controversies over the past ten months, starting with the dismissal of some long-time volunteers in March of 2012. In December, the Board of Health had voted to turn the management of the shelter over to the nonprofit Neighbor to Neighbor Network (NTNN). However, in early January, at the urging of residents, the mayor and council made a decision to put the shelter management out to bid.
Before a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued, a large number of NTNN supporters spoke at last week’s council meeting, asking the governing body to reconsider and allow the NTNN to run the shelter. Councilman Michael Venezia then put the subject on the agenda for discussion at last night’s meeting.
Venezia proposed that the ordinance regarding shelter management be amended to turn over responsibility for the shelter to Ted Ehrenburg, the township administrator, thus removing control of the shelter from the Board of Health. He recommended that Ehrenburg then negotiate exclusively with the NTNN over a period of about 21 days to reach an agreement for the management of the shelter. If an agreement is not reached, he said, then the RFP could still be issued at that time.
However, Councilman Bernard Hamilton suggested that the council move the management of the shelter to the township administrator and once that is finalized, Ehrenburg would then make a recommendation whether to issue an RFP or to negotiate first with the NTNN.
The mayor and council agreed, and voted unanimously to craft an amendment to the shelter ordinance giving the responsibility for the shelter to the township administrator. This amendment must then be passed on first reading at next week’s council meeting, and again on second reading at the next regular conference meeting after that. In the meantime, Ehrenburg, who has had a similar experience with the animal shelter at his previous position in the town of Bloomingdale, could start considering the options for the shelter’s future.
In other news, the mayor and council reappointed Joel Elkins to the Board of Health, and replaced Martha Felix with Toni Rodriguez, who had previously served on the Open Space Trust Fund Committee.
Three members of the Zoning Board (Linda Barucky, Joseph Del Guidice and Leo Sceurman) were reappointed, and Walter Davidson was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board.
Ken Kenna and Joe Barry, Jr. were reappointed to the Historic District Review Board. Barry was also upgraded from Alternate #1 to a regular member of the board.
Appointments were also made to several other boards and committees.
The next council meeting will be held on Monday, February 4, 2013, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.