It is described as a “Mixed-use building consisting of an 88- bed assisted living facility and first floor commercial use which may include retail sales and services; restaurant and eating establishments; banks; offices; and health clubs.”
According to a letter sent by Fountain Square Development L.L.C to Marc Dashield, Township Manager, they met to discuss the development of property at 63-65 Church Street. Fountain Square Development has recently completed The Kensington, a facility in White Plains, N.Y., which they describe as “similar to the 63-65 Church Street property.”
The facility has been called “The Kensington of Montclair” according to Fountain Square.
“The property has been exceptionally well-received by the community and is doing very well with 55 percent leased in only five months,” wrote Harley Cook of Fountain Square in the letter to Dashield.
“I can tell you this, it is very expensive,” said Cary Africk. Jeffrey Jacobson, For Montclair’s Third Ward candidate, questions the plan. “All we’ve heard is the idea that the residents of an assisted living facility will “shop” in Montclair, and that this is a reason to approve the proposal (which evidently will come with a tax break).”
“We should be putting that space to its highest and best use, measured by such criteria as what the town needs and the expected ratable impact.”
“This isn’t congress,” said Jacobson. “We’re all neighbors. I believe they [the council] are well-intentioned people trying to do the right thing. I get the sense that they’re trying to bind future councils in a way that if they think about it, isn’t the right thing to do.”
“It’s an important election,” said Jacobson. “People are attuned to the issues. There are certain things that the council needs to do and things that they don’t need to do.”
In yesterday’s Baristanet debate, Jacobson noted that all three mayoral candidates said the same thing- the next council should decide the assisted living issue, no matter who wins.
There is also a pending ordinance on the agenda that would allow homes to add a rental unit. According to the agenda, it was proposed in response to the need for affordable housing in Montclair.
“I see no harm in doing it,” said Africk. “I understand it’s been modified now to adjust to income levels.” When it was initially proposed, he said, this was not an option.
“Adding that on in so far as it takes away the landlord’s right to rent who he wants to rent to… The attractiveness of the proposal to a landlord is very small,” said Africk.
“Now that they’re putting this affordability clause on it, I don’t think one unit will be built.”
The council is also set to review an ordinance repealing the $535,000 that was provided for in a previous bond ordinance adopted in 2009 that was intended to be towards building a parking lot for police cruisers next to police headquarters. The project was dropped due to the projected costs of an eminent domain battle.
“We’re not doing the project,” said Africk. “We decided years ago not to do the project.”
The council will meet at 8 p.m. tonight in the Council Chambers.