MontClairVoyant: Big Developers Rarely Give the Boot to Building Names Too Cute

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DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Back in the early days of your 2003-launched column, you used several nicknames when writing about the houses that replaced the historic Marlboro Inn at Grove and Watchung. Do you recall that?

Sincerely,
Dee Molished

I do! Before those huge/crammed-in homes were built, the planned subdivision was called Hempstead at Montclair (HAM), so I labeled future residents HAMburghers.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
How mature of you. What happened when those 10 monster dwellings were renamed Christopher Court (CC)?

Sincerely,
Mick Mansions

I renamed the subdivision 10cc in honor of the band that echoed my overdevelopment views when it sang “I’m Not in Love.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
All that was a prelude to the annoying/pretentious names of some newer projects in Montclair. For example, why is a planned Orange Road building being called MC Residences?

Sincerely,
Bootsy Bonniker

Ah, the jam-downtown-even-more project that was discussed at the Historic Preservation Commission’s November 29 meeting. I assume MC stands for Montclair, and it’s a rather cutesy-wootsy moniker, Bootsy Bonniker.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The hotel rising nearby also has MC in its name. Is that some kind of E=mc2 thing? Can Einstein sue from the grave?

Sincerely,
Relativity Proclivity

I’m more worried about everything in Montclair possibly having those initials. For instance, naming all 11 public schools MC would cause busing chaos, with some kids inevitably dropped off in — gasp! — Cedar Grove.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
A REAL worry is structural problems at our town’s aging schools. Montclair High’s stairway issues, and now the 1896-founded Glenfield has closed two rooms because of cracked roof trusses. Shows how crucial inspections are, right?

Sincerely,
Glenda Field

Truss but verify.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Then we have the irksome Valley & Bloom name for the ugly complex near Valley Road and Bloomfield Avenue. When V&B got its moniker, what the heck happened to the “field” part of “Bloomfield”?

Sincerely,
Gone With the Sinned

It was laid off, without severance, before attaching itself to another road. It’s surreal walking down Fairfieldfield Street.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Valley & Bloom was originally going to be called Centroverde. What’s that mean, anyway?

Sincerely,
Puzzled on Pierson Place

It’s Spanish for green centipede or something.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And what’s with The Siena name for a so-so structure that doesn’t look Italian?

Sincerely,
South Park Snark

Like Rome, mediocrity wasn’t built in a day.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Can you end this column on a serious note by mentioning the December 12 fundraiser at Ruthie’s BBQ & Pizza for the people displaced by the awful November 15 house fire at Valley and Walnut?

Sincerely,
Bea There

That multi-family house didn’t have a name, but it was home.

Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. MC (Montclair Center) is the marketing moniker given to downtown. It was created under the leadership of Luther Flurry, the former Director of the Montclair Business Improvement District (BID). I personally like downtown and will always call it downtown.

    One intent of the BID was to divert share away from the neighborhood commercial districts like the Southend, Walnut, Watchung, etc. The BID coveted Walnut Street’s Farmer’s Market as a short-term option, but the downtown property owners are too cheap to cede any space that doesn’t maximize their profits. They got the Township to build the $1.5MM South Park Street project for that express purpose. That hasn’t work out well at all. The new Church Street project is proof of that. Listen to the Council bang on about the 21 “public” spaces…and ask when and how they will be available. We’ve been down this road in 2011 and that was a cluster of really bad information – so much so the project was dropped.

    All in all, a lot of sparkly, shiny balls in the air.

    As always, my thanks to the 3rd Ward for taking the brunt of the MC’s development. By the way, how is the view now from the slope? Do you like the hotel? I want to feel badly for you, but you did vote for this.

  2. Thank you, Frank!

    So, the MC in The MC hotel and MC Residences might stand for Montclair Center rather than Montclair? If so, My Conjecture (MC) was wrong. 🙂 Also, I thought MC was more a developer (Pinnacle) idea than BID idea. If not, a Mistaken Credit (MC) by me.

    Calling that part of Montclair “downtown” works for me, too!

    The South Park “upgrade” is really so minor in a way that it’s dismaying how much money was spent on it. And, yes, the second Farmers’ Market was not a success.

    That nine-story MC hotel will indeed be a colossal view blocker as one looks west to east toward NYC. Many people on “the slope” didn’t want their view blocked, even as some of them might have still voted for the current mayor — but voted for him for reasons that didn’t include his being THAT overdevelopment-friendly.

  3. With Amazon no longer coming Newark, there is no longer such demand for all of this bulk volume of out of character apartments and shopping. No other big companies on the horizon either. Why continue with all of this?

  4. An excellent question, frankgg! Thank you.

    I suppose some Montclair powers-that-be feel they can lure childless affluent people to move to Montclair to live in those pricey new residential buildings. But if people in such a demographic are looking for “the urban lifestyle” that a cluttered Montclair downtown would supposedly offer, they might as well stay in/move to Manhattan or Brooklyn.

  5. Interesting, frankgg! Yes, with the pricey rents being charged for those new downtown apartments in Montclair, plus the steep commuting costs, it could indeed be cheaper in some cases to live in Manhattan! (Given Montclair’s terrain, I guess the parts of Montclair closest to Glen Ridge and Bloomfield would be Montclair’s “lower” east side. 🙂 )

  6. The trend is not favorable. Consumer product stores are in a straight line decline here in Montclair and will not recover. There will be some Window Shop stores like Williams-Sonoma and Ble Mercury, but the majority of the economic multiplier will be lost. Yes, for those that want to argue, there are impulse purchase stores surviving here and there. However, these will be among the first to take the hit in the next downturn. Yes, the one that is never going to happen.

    The economic diversity strategy we believe will help us thru the next downturn would be a plus if we had reigned in muncipal spending. Unfortunately, we haven’t done this. I get why, but I also get to say so much for the economic diversity advantage. I figure we have 2-3 more years and then a really big reset. Then the market will determine Montclair’s next phase.

    And the worst part will be the new, big developments like Valley & Bloom, Seymour & Laclawanna.
    This ground level experiences will be what they now. You can believe this will attract people to Montclair. It is the season.

  7. Thank you for the comment, Frank! I hope there isn’t another recession soon, but it’s quite possible there will be.

    One thing that bothers me about big new projects such as Valley & Bloom is that many or most of their commercial tenants tend to be part of chains. Not exactly mom-and-pop stores (often run by friendly neighbors) that attract a good number of Montclair residents to shop locally rather than online or at the malls despite possibly higher prices and our town’s parking problems.

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