By Jaimie Julia Winters
Rooftop construction at the MC Hotel has been halted after the town discovered that mechanicals had been placed in an area not approved by the town.
“There is an issue that mechanical equipment has been placed on the top of the rooftop bar, which is not consistent with the approved site plan. The developer has been informed of this and directed that no additional work on the roof is to be conducted,” said Janice Talley, the township’s director of planning and community development.
Developer Brian Stolar of Pinnacle Cos. broke ground in April 2016 on the 120,000-square-foot, 151-room hotel at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road, which will also contain a conference/event center, a restaurant and a rooftop bar. It is scheduled to open sometime this year.
Planning board member Martin Schwartz said he was walking by the site and spotted additional construction on top of the rooftop bar and remembered it was not reflected in the developer’s final submitted hotel renderings. He alerted the planning department, contending the developer was, in a sense, adding another level to the hotel.
The planning department dispatched a memo to Pinnacle on Dec. 21.
“There is an issue with the location of the rooftop equipment located above the bar at the MC Hotel. The equipment placed on top of the rooftop bar and enclosed by an eight-foot tall screening wall is inconsistent with the approved site plan,” Talley wrote in her memo.
The town approved a rooftop bar, green space and mechanicals for the top floor. Testimony from the applicant a July 2014 planning board meeting stated that rooftop equipment would either be placed in the enclosed mechanical room next to the bar or in the basement. The applicant further testified that the only equipment to be placed above the rooftop bar would be vents and a small screening wall. The current condition does not reflect the approved site plan or the renderings, wrote Talley.
“We clearly need to be diligent with this developer to avoid making the same mistakes in the past — like with the hotel parking deck where they kept seeking more and more space, even pushing out into the public right of way to accommodate their technical builds,” said Schwartz. The garage was approved in 2008.
“When it came to the final exterior building details for sign off today, the developers submitted what appeared to be intentionally misleading plans. Plans which allowed them to try and avoid providing better aesthetics that would improve the deck’s appearance, yet elements which decision-makers believed had instead been mutually agreed to in prior meetings,” Schwartz said.
In response to the memo, the developers’ architect, Michael Maturo, wrote that the town approved plans in January 2017 of the rooftop screening on the “mechanical level,” which is above the rooftop bar.
A meeting with the developer has been scheduled to address the issue, said Talley.