Bloomfield Council: Redevelopment Plan for Broad, Liberty Streets

BY  |  Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013 3:51pm  |  COMMENTS (34)

Photo credit: Maria Probst

Photo of rendering: By Maria Probst

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.


  1. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  January 29, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

    Oh good I was worried we were only trying to stuff 10 lbs of junk in a 2 lb sack. So glad it’s going to be closer to 15 lbs.

  2. POSTED BY kbanda  |  January 29, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

    NTNN feels it deserves the privilege of managing the animal shelter. I have a few questions to them:

    How many years’ experience have any of you had in shelter management? Please give names, shelters managed, dates, etc.

    Since the Bloomfield/Bukowski Animal Shelter is a municipal shelter and not a private entity, what transparency can we taxpayers and residents expect?


    How can you justify spending NTNN funds (donations) to pay Jim Crosby’s travel expenses to eval Memphis when others made it known they were more than willing to foot the bill?

    How can you justify spending NTNN funds (donations)to pay for a 3-day training session for Open Paw when you are the only people to benefit from that training?

    How do you justify being an exclusive club? How can you justify not including the veteran volunteers in your alleged efforts to make the Bloomfield/Bukowski Animal Shelter the best it can possibly be? What are your plans for an open volunteer program to encourage and allow as many people as possible to volunteer to work with the animals and give them as much TLC as possible?

    How can you justify your maligning and demonizing people who were your former colleagues and who put in far more years toiling in voluntary service under extremely harsh and heartbreaking conditions you cannot possibly imagine?

    What is your explanation for excluding people who worked so hard, devoted countless hours and spent hundreds of their own dollars helping the Fundraising Committee get off the ground and make the first tricky tray and other fundraising events the successes they were?

    Fundraising aside, there is far more to successfully managing a municipal animal shelter than just being a known entity in town and in Karen Lore’s back pocket. Please fill in the blanks. Thank you.

  3. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  January 29, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    It’s nice that the development will complement the new Bloomfield College development. It’s too bad it won’t do much to compliment Bloomfield’s already overcrowded schools. I wonder if they will also get a tax abatement so yet another development project will provide zero tax support for the school district.

    The BOE hired a demographer recently to get some real numbers (not the developers numbers, and not the Mayor’s numbers) regarding the number of kids we can expect from the dozen or so residential developments in the works. I believe the number was more than 500.

    I’ll let that sink in………yup 500 new students. That’s more than one whole new elementary school.

    They will be arriving just as the district tries to dig itself out of a budget hole that has been dug over the last two years when the BOE decided not to use all the room under the 2% tax cap.

  4. POSTED BY redrum  |  January 29, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

    Looks like the rest of the banal pop-up strip development taking over everywhere. Cheap, cheesy and fake. It looks like they borrowed from the pages of Centro Verde’s play book.

  5. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  January 29, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    Good grief.

  6. POSTED BY mimimichalski  |  January 29, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

    Actually it is hard to see in this rendering, but the “look” of the development is really more in tune with the type of older buildings that are still around in Bloomfield. Different heights, materials, etc. give it a less uniform look than some of these new developments.

  7. POSTED BY pat gilleran  |  January 29, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

    I called for an RFP for tranaparency and because it’s the law in NJ (any contract over $17,500) and then went into the unethicalness of NTNN

    *The fact that 2 NTNN videos are now up on the “Official Shelter website” these videos are propaganda for NTNN and call for the awarding of the shelter to them

    * the recent e-mails (from NTNN Board members) and phone calls to people who have recetly adopted from the shelter – these e-mails and phone numbers were harvested from the shelter files. The”jane from the shelter” who made phone calls is none other than Jane Chaplinski NTNN board member and Health department Employee (was she calling on time that the Health department and Bloomfield were paying her for?). So the bottom line is that NTNN has access to priviledged information- information that you or I could not get with an OPRA request and information that people did not share in order to ger marketing calls from NTNN.

    * The fact that in searching the 2011 and 2011 files an animal file where there was a copy of a drivers license, MEDICARE card, and Third party Insurance cards contained in it. Can you say HIPPA violation? Why has NTNN been requirinf people to submit this type of ID- and copying it and putting it into the files. NTNN volunteers are not bonded – should they be?

    * I also talked about the fact that 53 dogs were reclaimed by their owners in 2011 at $100 per dog (a fine for letting a dog run free) and that there are no records of the payment made enywhere – I’ve been told that there is no receipt book- the Bloomfield auditors also point this out several years running.

    These are unethical people who will do anything and think that the ends justify the means.

  8. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  January 29, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

    I don’t know Mimi. It may be the small image, but to me it looks similar to the rendering of the new college development…

    I can’t find the rendering for the downtown redevelopment but it doesn’t look all that different from that either. Without the pictures it’s hard to say, but I’d venture a guess that it looks a lot like many of the other 12-15 projects that are in the works.

    But honestly that’s not the stopper for me. It’s a complete lack of a plan or a vision for any of this development. As a town, what do we need? We need ratables, we need businesses. We don’t need another 100+ plus residential units with no way to pay for the accompanying infrastructure.

  9. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  January 29, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    The design here is another take on the 1980’s Battery Park City design playbook. A lot of brick in the middle, a bit of stone at the bottom, and some kind of projection up on top. Add a few trees and signs, maybe a glass canopy or two. The formula has held up pretty well all these years, but it would be nice to see some fresh ideas too.

  10. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  January 29, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

    It’s just a presentation version of the final project. The real one will have a “2nd months rent 1/2 off” banner across it.

  11. POSTED BY mimimichalski  |  January 29, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    It is always difficult to imagine these things until they are actually built, unfortunately! Although I would agree there is a certain amount of sameness about a lot of these developments, over time it will take on a patina of its own and 100 years from now people will probably be gushing over the wonderful early 21st century design…. 🙂

  12. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  January 29, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

    I absolutely agree with State Street Pete: another fake stucco midrise with insufficient parking, displaced businesses which will be entitled to compensation for their displacement (a hidden cost,) who knows how much in tax abatements, traffic congestion and further stress on schools and infrastructure without any meaningful increase in ratables other than more renters. Bloomfield is at risk for being the poster child for the rental bubble, with thousands of units coming on the market at the same time.
    Today I drove by the rising parking deck across from the train station. It’s brand new — and the stucco looks like it’s already degraded, the brick is chipped, the modules are ill-fitting, and it presents nothing but the ass end of a lifeless parking deck to the streetscape! Who approved this? What were they thinking?? It offers nothing to a pedestrian or drive-by view — just a parking deck, and an inadequate one at that.

    I really believe Bloomfield should impose a moratorium on any approvals of new development until every council member, planning and zoning board member has committed the master plan to memory. There isn’t a single project approved in the last five years which takes the award-winning master plan into account.

  13. POSTED BY pat gilleran  |  January 29, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

    It also looks a lot like the 225 development. Maybe we could see all the renderings side by side- I think thay all look very similar.

  14. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  January 29, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

    They ARE all very similar. You see them popping up all over NJ — only Bloomfield’s cramming them in on every block. Zero imagination. Zero planning. And in my opinion, zero benefit for the community in the long term. Who’s going to rent all these units at ‘market value?’ And you can bet every developer has hopes to go condo in the future. What it’s really doing is devaluing the houses in Bloomfield. But nobody’s doing an analysis of that.

  15. POSTED BY mimimichalski  |  January 29, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

    Kit, just remember that the parking deck will actually be surrounded on all sides by the residential and retail stores. You won’t see the whole parking deck the way it looks now. Only the entrances will show on the corners.

  16. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  January 29, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

    Mimi, it is situated very close to the street, so whatever structure they’re putting in front of it must be small in stature, and size-wise, inconsequential, precluding any pocket park or public space. No planning for sidewalk cafes there, as near as I can see.

    Bloomfield has a nice neighborhood on Broad Street further up for a couple of blocks, where Mes Reve (spelling?) and Bohemia and other restaurants are located in original 2 story shopfronts. They’re struggling maybe in this economy, but it’s an organically formed pocket of decent restaurants and funky stores with easy parking, encouraged by affordable rents. If the powers that be continue to approve every half baked application for a stucco rental unit “improvement”, they’ll be gone too, along with any hope for the schools. It’s nuts.
    It’s soul-less sky-sucking mediocre housing designed to enrich developers and fool local leaders into thinking they’re generating ratables. They’re generating traffic and overcrowded schools. And every one of these pre-fab powder coated and Dryvit confections is going to look like a s**t-hole in 15 years.

    Full disclosure: I’m getting booted from my soon-to-be-torn-down historic civil war era mill building, which in Great Britain would never have been allowed, to make way for 332 units of housing on Belleville Avenue: one of those stucco edifices that looks for all the world like a Holiday Inn.
    And all that’s going to do for Bloomfield, with its 30 year abatement, is bring Belleville Avenue to a grinding halt.

  17. POSTED BY redrum  |  January 29, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

    One must agree with Kit on this one. Its show-and-tell developer junk that in 10 years, will be falling apart at the seams. Leaky windows, improper roofs, cracking plastic and faux stucco. Only chains can afford the retail rents, paying minimum wage. It’s ruining our downtowns, its destroying their character. Its the homogenization of America.

  18. POSTED BY Pork Roll  |  January 30, 2013 @ 12:15 am

    The Block 243 (Broad & Liberty Street) Redevelopment Plan document is available on the Bloomfield Township website here.

    Also, the redevelopment plan documents for other projects around town are available on the township website as well; look on the left-hand menu under “Community Development”. Clicking on a project link will bring up a picture of that project; click on the picture to see the redevelopment plan document.

  19. POSTED BY mimimichalski  |  January 30, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    Believe me, Kit, I do much prefer organically created revitalization and I am completely in favor of adaptive reuse of historic buildings and old factories – I don’t want to give the impression that would not be my preference. The Annie Sez building, the Liberty Theater and Burgess Chemist building were all worth saving and I wish they weren’t going to be torn down. Unfortunately, that stretch of Broad Street didn’t have all of its original buildings so in between the good buildings were the one-story infill of ugly, more “modern” buildings. Other areas of Bloomfield, much of Montclair and other towns like Red Bank retained more of their original architecture. I am glad that Gloria’s pub (formerly Pianos) will be spared at least.

  20. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  January 30, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    The image on the township website is so not Bloomfield it is almost offensive. The bus stop on the green is gone, so are the trash cans, and look smiling white girls lounging in the sun with a starbucks across the street. SO the developer and people who approved this with that image included have 1. either never been our diverse town with employed people using public transport. or 2. have their heads so far up their own ends it’s hopeless.

    Also reading what won’t be allowed includes outdoor sale of goods. Does that mean no option for an outdoor cafe ? No harvest festival for those retail businesses?

    And the parking numbers look good until this footnote – “Any basement area devoted to clearance sales associated with a retail business on the first floor above shall not be required to comply with the parking standard for retail use.” SO even with a solid plan to provide parking right away they gave themselves the legal loophole.

  21. POSTED BY Conan  |  January 30, 2013 @ 10:12 am

    Generally, HRH, when you are trying to sell something that does not yet exist through renditions and symbolizations, you do not portray it as the Black Hole of Calcutta (which has been renamed to the Hindi equivalent of Woodland Lakes, or something like that).

  22. POSTED BY kay  |  January 30, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    I looked up Dryvit and learned something new today. I remember some talk about EIFS a few years ago when the company I worked for was remodeling their building. Hopefully they don’t end up with rot. Wonder if that’s why the Siena has so many problems?

    Interestingly, on my way to work this morning I passed by the Hampton Inn in East Newark (which is still unfortunately closed due to Sandy) and although it does not have the “shirt and pants” look (I think Spiro called it something like that once before!) it totally looks like this Bloomfield rendering above. Blocky with differing setbacks, pretend cornice. Looking at the design for the Bloomfield College dorm (and frankly, many new developments these days) they all look similar to me. sigh

  23. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  January 30, 2013 @ 10:25 am

    I get that Conan but if every project comes with a side of-never-going-to-happen fantasy expectation then we are in serious trouble.

  24. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  January 30, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

    I can’t help but wonder what impact all these new units will have on housing values in Bloomfield in two ways. I recently discovered that there are lots of neighborhoods in Bloomfield which appear to be single family homes but are actually multi-family. Bloomfield has been very generous in its zoning that way. So these new units go into competition with a lot of existing rental units in free-standing homes. And competition lowers prices. So the existing multi-family homes may appeal their taxes in the future if their revenues (and property values) go down. Second is the relativlely low value of Bloomfield housing when compared with comparable housing in Glen Ridge, Montclair and even parts of Clifton. I’m not sure why that is, but if schools factor into it, and these new units adversely impact the schools, then everybody loses.

  25. POSTED BY maralin  |  January 30, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

    Ms. Banda, who is probably more qualified to manage the Bloomfield Animal Shelter than that Kathleen Georgevich, has many good questions. The legal and fair approach is a RFP. The shelter should never be turned over to the questionable NTNN.

  26. POSTED BY bebopgun  |  January 30, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

    I heard they were going to hire Gaudi, but he was busy. New kids moving in is good news. There will be a solution to the school issue. It’s not going to be 500 new students next year, but over time. Half the new projects haven’t been approved yet.

    As for demand, demographics is on Bloomfield’s side. The growing part of our population is a wide swath of low-to-middle income people from 20-80 years old. They have to live somewhere. Lower rental prices would also be a good thing given the way wages and senior citizens’ fixed incomes are going.

    The change will be good.

  27. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  January 30, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

    Have to admire your optimism, Bebopgun, even if I don’t agree with your take on it. Let’s hope they take one of these “areas in need of redevelopment” and reserve it for the new elementary school.

  28. POSTED BY bebopgun  |  January 31, 2013 @ 10:30 am

    Not overly optimistic, but with the change coming there is opportunity and I’m happy to see things like a standing room only crowd at the last council meeting.

    The school challenge is huge and we’ve a great Superintendent who is on top of it. The town is also rallying around the issue that we have to start planning for more students.

    Granted, there’s a lot of heavy lifting to do and the Oakes Pond development was a mistake in so many ways, but I don’t think we’ll let that happen again.
    We’ll see how the next election goes.

  29. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  January 31, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

    Considering the developers big resume items (per the article and his presentation) are renovating Quick Check and a bank, adding a liquor store, changing a department store into Annie Sez and another building into that Mandees I don’t see how this won’t be a mistake. I’m equally qualified for this project based on my time playing Sim City then, at least that makes you take traffic and the school system into consideration.

  30. POSTED BY johnqp  |  January 31, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

    Oh well, at least Bloomfield’s proposed development plans don’t include the building an unwanted nursing home right smack in the middle of downtown..parking be damned.

  31. POSTED BY johnqp  |  January 31, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

    “of” an unwanted nursing home …

  32. POSTED BY redrum  |  January 31, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

    Don’t you know the free money cheat in Sim City to keep the schools running? I think Montclair uses the cheat code as well. Its typed in as RAISETAXES.

  33. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  January 31, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    I never used a cheat code in Sim City lol. But if I do play again now I know thank you !

  34. POSTED BY pat gilleran  |  January 31, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

    @bebop that standing room crowd were the supporters of NTNN wetting their chop on a contract with Bloomfield

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