A five-story, 22-unit housing and office project is planned for 10 Elm St. in Montclair (AD HOLDINGS)

By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

A developer has proposed a five-story, 22-unit housing and office project, replacing a carpet center and auto parts store at 10 Elm St.

The development would replace the one-story building that currently houses Bynderian Floor Coverings and Smith Boring Auto Parts. Plans were presented to the Montclair Township Planning Board on Monday, Nov. 22.

Andre Djibachi, president of AD Holdings, said his company has not yet purchased the 17,949-square-foot, 0.41-acre property and is awaiting the project’s approval by the board before moving forward. 

He proposes demolishing the existing building and rear garage to construct a new five-story mixed-use building with a lobby and parking on the first floor, a 1,100-square-foot office on the second floor and 22 dwelling units — four of which would be classified as affordable housing — on the third through fifth floors. The building would include eight two-bedroom units and 14 three-bedroom units. 

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Paul Sionas, who designed the Vestry on Bloomfield Avenue, the Montclarion II at Bay Street and the Westerly on Park Street, is designing the project.

The affordable units — at 1,325 square feet for each two-bedroom unit and 1,800 square feet per for each three-bedroom unit — would be the largest new affordable units in Montclair to date, Sionas said.

Montclair requires that all new developments reserve one fifth of their units for affordable housing. When the number of units isn’t cleanly divisible by five, a developer can either add another affordable unit or pay into the township’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. For the project on Elm Street, the developer would pay $78,956 into the trust.

The property, located between an Exxon gas station and the two-story Arbor Gate apartment building, is assessed at $1.38 million and the annual taxes are nearly $49,000, according to tax records.

Township code would require 50 spaces at the site, but the proposal would fall one space short, requiring a variance.

The ground-floor parking area would include 44 parking spaces accessed by a driveway with a gate at the center of the building. Five of those spaces would be set aside for electric vehicles, which would let the applicant claim a credit for another five spaces, as though there were 49 in total.

The application originally planned for two of the spaces to use mechanical stackers — for a physical total of 46 spaces, or 51 after the credit. But that idea had been abandoned, Sionas said.

The fifth floor would be stepped back 46 feet from the front of the building and include a landscaped roof terrace with a glass guardrail in front of the building.

The exterior would be brick and insulated aluminum panels in grey tones. Balconies would have either semi-transparent glass walls or metal railings. A green roof is proposed for the top level. 

The parking garage would include a bike storage room. 

Montclair’s master plan states that the maximum height for the area should be four stories. But the property is in the C-1 Central Business Zone Center area district, which allows six stories for apartment and office developments. Planner Janice Talley conceded that the Master Plan is and  C-1 zoning were inconsistent. The zoning allows a maximum density of 55 dwelling units per acre.

The master plan also recommends a 10-foot stepback for all stories above the third story, where the project only includes a fifth-story stepback.

Three variances, concerning the parking and a ground floor terrace, and three waivers concerning storage space and parking space size are being sought.

The application will continue to be heard on Dec. 13.