By LINDA MOSS
A project by the Wellmont Theater that’s envisioned as a regional arts and entertainment mecca, and as a boon to downtown Montclair, got the final go-ahead it needed on Monday night from the Township Planning Board.
In a meeting that only took about an hour, the board approved a 37-page resolution regarding the redevelopment of Seymour Street. The board voted on the written document that memorialized its decision in August to sign-off on the redevelopment’s site plan. The tally was six in favor of the resolution, while board member Tony Ianuale abstained.
The project is being undertaken by Pinnacle Cos. of Montclair and Brookfield Properties, a global real estate firm that’s headquartered in Manhattan. Pinnacle President Brian Stolar and his attorney were at Monday night’s meeting.
Board member Martin Schwartz told Board Chair John Wynn that Mayor Robert Jackson and the Township Council should be thanked for their support of the Seymour Street redevelopment. Schwartz credited the mayor with championing the redevelopment of the 3.5-acre site, which is now home to the former Social Security Administration building and STS Tire and Auto, a block on Bloomfield Avenue between Seymour and South Willow streets.
“I think it’s important, Mr. Chairman, that we acknowledge those who really advocated for this, and that would be our mayor,” Schwartz said.
“Two — what was it two years ago — Mayor Jackson announced that this was a priority for him. And he’s given us the impetus and the council has given us the time and opportunity to work through all the details and changes here, and I think we’ve come up with an excellent end result and that if it’s built according to what’s here, I think, both the mayor and the council should be congratulated for their foresight and planning thinking.”
There was some quibbling, but not much, between the board and Stolar’s attorney, Tom Trautner, over parts of the resolution’s wording. For example, a clause was added to say that Pinnacle will not be responsible to buy any additional software or hardware if its electronic signage, advising drivers if parking at the redevelopment’s new parking decks at South Willow Street and South Fullerton Avenue is available, is interconnected with future signs at municipal lots throughout town.
The linchpin of the redevelopment plan is a 14,000-square-foot public pedestrian plaza, a venue for arts and entertainment, that will be built directly in front of the Wellmont on Seymour Street, which will be closed to traffic
The overall project will have two buildings, with one of them six stories tall with 200 residential units, 232 parking spaces, 10,000 square feet dedicated to the arts and entertainment and roughly 30,000 square feet of retail space that will face Bloomfield Avenue and Seymour Street. The second building, seven stories tall, has two stories of office space and five floors of parking.