By Jaimie Julia Winters
More details on Lloyd Estate, a 60,000-square-foot mansion proposed for the site of two recently demolished homes along Eagle Rock Reservation, were revealed at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on Feb. 28.
The home, proposed for the Estate Section of Montclair, will sit 150 feet above Lloyd Road street level and have sweeping views of the New York City skyline.
Along with typical living quarters such as a family room, a living room, a mud room, a dining room and a kitchen, the home will include a basketball court, a spa, a gym, a bowling alley, a movie theater, indoor and outdoor pools, a staff wing, a separate chef’s kitchen, a billiards room with a second-story catwalk, a library, a computer lab, a nine-car motor court, garage, four guest suites, three kids’ rooms, a homework room, a master suite with his-and-her balconies and a kitchenette, two more balconies, two galleries, a great hall, all accessible by two elevators — a freight and a family elevator. Accessory buildings include gate and pool houses.
The application for the new home, which will be situated at 14 Undercliff Road and 172 Lloyd Road, was filed with the planning department in October 2018.
On the application under owner’s name, “not applicable” is written in. However, on a soil erosion and sediment control plan application filed with the Hudson-Essex-Passaic-Soil Conservation District on Nov. 8, 2018, the name under applicant’s name is Melih Abdulhayoglu.
The properties were purchased by 14 Undercliff LLC in January 2018 and May 2018 respectively and will equate to 28 acres in total. The properties were purchased for a combined price of $7,463,400, with taxes at a combined $119,000, according to tax records. 14 Undercliff LLC was formed in July 2017 by Dennis Jenkins, a managing member of the South Orange-based Mecca Property Development, according to records filed with the state Division of Revenue and Finance.
The two homes that existed on the properties — 14 Undercliff, built in 1865, and 172 Lloyd, constructed in 1907 — were razed in early February with demolition permits being issued Feb. 5. The homes were surveyed for Preservation Montclair in 1982, but were never registered on the historical register.
Two variances are being sought for the estate, one for a rear setback of 25 feet where 141 feet is required and one for parking of 11 vehicles where four is allowed.
Alan Trembulak, the developer’s attorney, said the owner wants the house situated as far back from the road as possible to minimize the impact of the estate’s scale on the neighborhood.
Architect Thomas Hickey of GRADE New York, who has designed the vast home, admitted it is one not commonly found in the region. He described the style as “transitional” in a neo-Tudor style with modern details. The family living areas will be set back behind the entrance areas to minimize the scale of the home.
“We are not building history, instead a translation of history,” he said.
The home will have a limestone facade, black slate roof and “a lot of glass [surrounded by bronze or steel] to have views of the New York skyline.”
A retaining wall approximately six feet in height will be erected to keep erosion at bay in the mountainside’s “steep slope district.”
“I have been told many of the trees are not healthy and side walls would be stronger than any trees there now,” Hickey said about the erosion plans.
Although a prior plan calling for a height variance for 38.5 feet has been pulled because the architect plans on keeping the height to the allowable 35 feet, Historic Preservation Commission members were concerned with the home’s roofline, the scale of the home and its closeness to the Lenape Trail at Eagle Rock, saying that they suspected the setback was intended to give the property owners better views, rather than hiding the building from Lloyd Road.
“I am uncomfortable making any recommendations until I see the elevations and how that could affect the trail visitors’ views,” said member David Greenbaum, adding that he frequently hikes the trail.
The commission’s recommendations, which will be sent to the zoning board, include not allowing for the setback backyard variance of 25 feet; expressing the need for elevation plans to show the context on the scale of the building to not only the trail, but all sides as well; that the building be more responsive to the curvature of the topography of the land; screening to block the view of the home but not the skyline along the trail; and that the applicant turn over all renderings, plans and photographs of the demolished homes to the library and Montclair History Center.
Thomas B. Connolly, a historic preservation consultant, delivered a report stating that “the demolition of these two residences would remove two contributing architectural resources as viewed within the Estate Resource Area and their loss alone would change the character of the neighborhood and the proposed single house appears to be out of scale and out of character with the other resources in the area designated by the Master Plan as worthy of preservation.”
According to GRADE’s website, the company is also designing a 6,800-square-foot home, the “Upper Mountain House,” in Montclair with “hints of influences from Philip Johnson’s modernist Connecticut homes.”
The zoning board will hear the application on March 20.