Montclair Mixed-Use Office Space To Get Mural Treatment

A proposed mixed-use office space at 6 Gates Avenue may get some excitement added to its facade by way of a new mural. The plans for the mural were discussed at the Montclair Planning Board’s August 9th meeting.

The rendering only shows what it could do to have a mural on the side of the building which can be seen from Bloomfield Avenue, said David Genova, a partner in the project. “The idea was to show that it could wrap the building, it could be the length of the building.”

Genova said he experienced the jury process with the Montclair Center BID before for one of his buildings at 131 Glenridge Avenue. His recollection is that the artists come out to the space and give both ideas and budgets for creating a mural in the space. Genova was willing to use that same BID process and agreed that it would be his responsibility to pay for it. The budget for the mural opposite the Crescent Deck was $20,000 according to Township Planned Janice Talley, per Montclair Center BID’s Jason Gleason. She offered this mural as a comparable size to what would be painted at 6 Gates Avenue.

This renderings shows what it could look like to have another mural in Montclair — at 6 Gates Avenue.

Montclair has been made more beautiful by the addition of many new murals, thanks in large part to Montclair Center BID’s efforts.

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  1. Mayor Spiller and Councilor Schlager, as members of the Planning Board, voted against this application because of the parking impact from the much more intensive, albeit legally allowed, added commercial uses. The newest Board member, an attorney, was the 3rd vote in dissent. He voted no even though he acknowledged the ordinance automatically & intentionally grants a parking exemption in these cases.

    For the last 25 years, our Councils have maintained this parking exemption as an incentive to bring these in-kind development applications to Montclair Center.

    Our Councils have amended some of the exemption’s scope over these years. Most recently, Councilor Spiller & Councilor Schlager, as part of the Jackson Council, voted in 2013 to restrict the incentive to a one-time only ”Get-Out-Of-Your-Parking-Obligation” card for developers. Most importantly, the Councils left unaltered the “more intensive use” clause on the card. Mayor Spiller and Councilor Schlager voted on it again in 2016, as part of the Jackson Council, to keep the exemption for the C-3 Central Business Zone; a new zone carved from the C-1 Central Business District.

    Mayor Spiller and Councilor Schlager are experienced Council members intimately familiar with their land use roles, and specifically this incentive through their ordinances. They understood the ordinance’s parking peril to Montclair Center and the adjacent residential neighborhoods.

    I guess their vote last week signaled the changing of horses in the middle of the stream.

    PS: I hate brick doors.

  2. This is a long-dormant warehouse being turned into a multi-story office building with retail (and possibly a restaurant) on the ground floor. Aesthetically, the renovated building will be a major improvement over what’s there now, as I said publicly during two Planning Board hearings on the project. The problem is that the one-time parking exemption for redevelopment relieves the developers of what would have been the responsibility to provide roughly 80 spots. Office tenants and visitors are going to have to park on the street, and to the extent that office workers will remain in their spots all day, this threatens to have a negative impact on retail stores in the area.

    Whether or not the one-time parking exception makes sense for smaller projects, I seriously doubt that any Council member who voted for it envisioned a project like this one, where a building that has needed basically zero parking spaces for decades suddenly sucks up 80-plus on-street spaces. This project vividly illustrated that the current policy has flaws, and I think it may cause our current Council to revisit the policy. The horse is out of the barn for this particular project, unfortunately, but perhaps it will be the last of its kind.

    I regret that, under current law, the Planning Board had no choice but to approve the project without any provisions for parking. I elected to be noisy about it, both because I think the policy needs to be revisited at the Council level and because I disagreed rather strongly with the testimony the developer’s expert gave about how parking in the area is supposedly plentiful. In the end, I voted no in order to put an exclamation point on my dissent, after a majority of the Board already had voted in favor. I think my colleagues did their jobs in granting approval, and I’d like to think I did mine to bring attention to the problem.

  3. I look forward to your comments & concerns on the Bellevue Theater Redevelopment Area review.

    FYI: Recently approved, large intensification projects without any parking obligation: Hampton House, Faubourg.

  4. I appreciate the fact that most readers can’t relate to development-related parking issues in Montclair. Those that can are typically ones directly impacted. And I’m certain most here are unaware of what our development/growth policy is and they certainly don’t connect it to climate change. Let me attempt a connection.

    First, it doesn’t matter what level of parking is appropriate. Montclair has standardized parking requirements. Regardless of what relief from these standards is conveyed by our land use bodies or by exemption, the statutory standards offer a basis for measurement.

    If we totaled all of Montclair’s development applications by their calculated required spaces ( on paper) including redevelopment areas, it would be in the many thousands of parking spaces added…just in the last 10 years.

    The question to keep in mind is whether any policy connection should be drawn between Montclair’s meteoric rate of development, as measured by parking spaces, and the rate of climate change? If so, to what degree is all this added development carbon neutral? And to what extent should the use of Area In Need of Redevelopment be used to spur new development if they are not carbon neutral? And what about ANRs, that are by definition incentives for accelerated, higher density development, that are clearly regional draws versus predominantly local?

    Just spitballing here. It doesn’t matter. I’m giving Montclair a climate change exemption.

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