Montclair, NJ – It’s a three-story, 34,000 square foot office building built in 1969 that serves as Montclair township’s municipal building since 1980, but 205 Claremont is at the center of a big plan for redevelopment that took a step forward Tuesday night. Montclair Planning Board voted 6-3 that the building, along with two adjacent properties owned by the township, meet the criteria for an area in need of redevelopment. The move is the start of a process that could lead to a brand new municipal complex.
The building’s poor condition hardly seemed new — a 2002 needs assessment called it inefficient, overcrowded and outdated. A 2005 report raised concerns about the roof, exterior walls, plumbing and ADA issues. But Planning Director Janice Talley shared recent photos showing a leaking roof and leaky pipes that create a problem with mold and external walls separating from floor plates.
These problems according to Talley meant that the building was substandard and dilapidated and that it also did not provide adequate space for the “anticipated relocation of the police department.”
Talley recommended that all three properties met the criteria and should be designated as an area in need of redevelopment. She also stated that there was no plan yet and that this was only the first step.
Talley explained the timeline: Once the Planning Board adopts the resolution with a recommendation to the council; the Council can then designate all, some or none of the area in need of redevelopment. The Township then seeks approval of the designation from the State Department of Community Affairs. Finally, a redevelopment plan is prepared and the public process begins.
Unlike the Label Street area, no one was calling the 205 Claremont or the former PNC bank vibrant. In fact, Councilor Robin Schlager, who sits on the Planning Board wondered aloud if they should all leave immediately after hearing the condition of the municipal building.
Before the vote, several Planning Board board members voiced concern about the conditions of the building, including reports of falling bricks and mold, and asked whether these and any safety issues would be addressed.
Town manager Timothy Stafford said the floor plates would be “examined by a structural engineer forthwith.” He also said there were engineers periodically looking at the issue of bricks that had fallen from the building.