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Developers could break ground soon on a 74-unit residential building for a Church Street parking lot.
RENDERING COURTESY PLANNING DEPARTMENT

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

The town is close to accepting an agreement to redevelop the former Hahne’s parking lot on Church Street into 74 units of housing and retail space.

The mayor and council are expected to vote on the agreement at its June 25 meeting.

As part of the Hahne’s Redevelopment Plan, a 74-unit housing development is now proposed for the lot at 59 Church St. that was once dedicated for parking at the nearby, now-closed Hahne’s department store. The Hahne’s store closed in 1989, and was replaced by the Siena apartments in 2007, which also was part of the Hahne’s Redevelopment Plan.

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In recent years, the 106-space lot on Church Street, which is surrounded by two churches and the Board of Education office, has been used as a private parking lot and was not zoned for housing. The council amended the redevelopment plan in November of last year to allow for housing on the site. The Hahne’s Redevelopment Plan, including the Church Street parking lot, has been in the works since 2003. The Church Street lot development will be the final part of the plan.

Zoning for the area allows for 90 units per acre. The Hahne’s lot measures roughly three quarters of an acre, which would allow for 65 units without a variance.

Bijou Properties of Hoboken has plans to build the mixed-use development, with commercial uses required on the street level and residential units on the upper floors. Commercial uses include retail sales and services, restaurants and eating establishments, banks, offices, and health clubs. No drive-thru uses are permitted.

The maximum building height is set at five stories with a no-minimum front-yard setback and minimum of five feet for the backyard. A public plaza that is at least 30 feet wide and 80 feet deep will be provided at the ground level.

Although in May of last year the township council approved a 20 percent affordable housing quota within any new Montclair development, 10 percent is now recommended for the Church Street development.

In addition to meeting parking requirements for tenants, the developer will provide 20 municipal parking spaces on-site and is expected to pay the town $175,000 to improve parking conditions at existing public lots. Parking requirements are about one space per unit.

The redeveloper will be required to submit a shared-parking analysis as part of the site plan application.

In 2012, Herod Church Street Holding sold the property for $2.8 million to Montclair Kensington Urban Renewal out of Virginia, according to tax records. Kensington had planned to build an 88-bed, six-story assisted living facility on the lot.

Developer Richard Grabowsky, who owns commercial properties in the area, sued the town, the planning board and the developers, contending an assisted-living facility didn’t conform with the site’s “in need of redevelopment” designation. In 2016, a Superior Court ruled the council’s ordinance expanding the use was invalid, according to court records.

Prior owners Brian Stolar, Alan Litt and Steven Plofker run the current parking lot. Kensington still owns the property, according to the tax office.

Bijou has, for over 20-years, developed LEED-certification and environmentally conscious projects. In the last three years, the company says, it has completed $400 million in projects in Hoboken.