Montclair Planning Board: Municipal Building, Adjacent Properties Meet Redevelopment Criteria

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The building’s poor condition hardly seemed new — a 2002 needs assessment called it inefficient, overcrowded and outdated.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.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. We overpaid for the PNC bank it appears. One of the connected properties. Based on the then market assessment. And should have bought the Red Cross building next door on Park Street when it was first offered in the $700 thousand range a few years ago. Which could now potentially be the retrofitted senior center still sought.

    Instead, a development company purchased it, and is no doubt waiting for the township to come in and try to obtain that too. But now, at a very over-inflated price. No surprise. Too much paid for one….didn’t pursue the other proactively — which could actually be needed.

    An expanded and new municipal complex — combining the police headquarters and court too potentially — has been kicked around quietly for years. So why do we always come from behind then try to implement? Because the culture here is still to avoid open debate and timely consideration, leading to fully vetted and clear-cut municipal decisions. Instead, rather than early, open discussion with full transparency that generally illuminates choices and can leads to smarter decisions, we avoid everything at first. Cover-up sometimes…pretend it’s not happening. And then, are always scrambling later — from behind. To recover, rather than really plan.

    Let’s see how this one plays out…leading now into the next Council race on top of a multi-year….$180 million dollar bond roll-out, needed actually to fix-up the schools.

    It will not faire too well moving ahead in the short-term, I suspect. Even after the already known decision to authorize an area in need of redevelopment — gets passed.

  2. I like the Council adding the Clary Anderson skating rink to the redevelopment discussion.. That site has so much potential.

  3. LMAO! The nightmare scenario…angry/time-on-their-hands seniors living above Council chambers. I love it!

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