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In Montclair, Auto Dealership to Transform Into LEED-Rated Mixed-Use Development

Earlier this summer, LCOR and the Pinnacle Companies announced the acquisition of a development parcel at 638 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, New Jersey. The site, which was once a car dealership, has been designated by the town as the location of Phase I of the Montclair Center Gateway Redevelopment Plan. Located within a mile of two New Jersey Transit stations with direct access to Penn Station, the project – dubbed CenterVerde at Montclair –  will eventually include over 300,000 square feet of LEED-certified, mixed-use space. Although the project will follow Montclair’s overall smart growth and sustainability planning initiatives, it’s unclear whether it will pursue LEED-ND or individual LEED ratings for each individual building in the complex.

Drafted by the real estate consulting firm Phillips Preiss Grygiel, the Township of Montclair adopted the Gateway Plan in November of 2011, subsequently selecting Pinnacle to redevelop the 4.1-acre site. PPG solicited input from the community in connection with its efforts, which uniformly identified Montclair’s lack of hotel facilities as detrimental to its arts, cultural, and business communities. So the Plan includes a density bonus provision designed to attract a boutique hotel that can support those institutions and Montclair’s nearly 40,000 residents. The Plan also requires LEED certification, on-site renewable energy sources, green roofs and spaces, and shuttle access to Montclair’s public transportation options.

Phase I of the CentroVerde project will include 259 residential units, 571 parking spaces, 23,000 square feet of office space, and 22,000 square feet of retail. It will also repurpose and incorporate a parking garage that currently exists on the site. Phase II of the project will develop the hotel; earlier this year, Pinnacle engaged a number of global hotel brands to confirm the viability of Phase II and expects to select an operator before the end of the year. The 8-story, 100-room hotel will have Manhattan views, conference space, a ground-floor restaurant/bar, and a rooftop bar. Construction costs for the hotel are expected to be $30 to $40 million, with ground expected to break in 2014.

The CentroVerde development site in Montclair, New Jersey.

“Downtown Montclair’s urban renaissance is well underway and picking up momentum, with a number of local initiatives, which will be further enhanced by the new upscale residential, retail and office components of Phase I of the Montclair Center Gateway Redevelopment Plan,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Brian Whitmer, who brokered the sale of the site. “This is a premier, highly visible site prime for mixed-use development,” Whitmer also said. “It sits at the intersection of Valley Road – within walking distance to a Whole Foods, many exciting restaurants and shops, and an NJ Transit commuter rail station servicing Manhattan commuters.”

Pinnacle is no stranger to the Montclair community: it also developed the mixed-use, 101-unit Siena condominium project on Church Street and South Park. LCOR has experience pursuing LEED certification, including the successful gut rehabilitation of 545 Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

We’ve covered quite a few green building projects in the North Jersey suburbs over the years here at gbNYC+, with many of them located in Montclair. For example, we wrote about the LEED Gold Academy Square adaptive reuse project at 33 Cooper Street, which transformed a former school into Class A office space. We also discussed the LEED-CS Silver GreenWorks on Grove renovation of a former gas station into a three-unit speculative office building.

These projects demonstrate that transit-oriented, mixed-use, development is alive and well in the Garden State, particularly in locations that are served by mass transit access into Manhattan. But for these types of projects to succeed in the long-term, and for others to flourish too, they must be accompanied by a commitment at higher levels of state and federal government to fund mass transit and infrastructure improvements, particularly across the Hudson River into the West Side of Manhattan and Penn Station. This will be the subject of a series of future posts here at gbNYC+. So stay tuned.

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