Maplewood Taps New Developer for Post Office Site

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(Editor’s note: 10/24/14, 11:15 a.m.: a paragraph regarding who met with the developer has been edited.)

The Maplewood Township Committee is expected to select JMF Properties of Cedar Knolls, NJ as the developer for the the Post Office site, according to an email from the township. The committee will formally vote on a resolution designating JMF as the preferred developer at its Nov. 5 meeting.

“We met with three very competent developers, all of whom told us Maplewood Village is a very special place,” said Mayor Vic DeLuca in a phone interview. “We selected the most creative and competent candidate for the job.”

JMF has proposed 23 apartments, about 6,000 square feet of retail space, and shopper parking consisting of around 20 spaces in a new surface lot in the rear of the building. The basement area will be used mostly for tenant parking.

The proposed retail space is a reduction from the original plan, which was formulated when Kings was expected to be the anchor tenant. DeLuca said the details were still being discussed and the development might also include “modest retail” on the ground floor on the side of the building that faces Village Coffee.

DeLuca said JMF had shown a willingness to maintain the design elements proposed by the previous developer, L&M, and approved by the design review committee of the Maplewood Village Alliance, and to work with the town to improve pedestrian and automobile circulation and the connection between the train station and Maplewood Avenue. “We don’t want a brick wall like there is now,” he said.

After the TC formally votes on the selection, there will be a 90-day negotiation period regarding the purchase price and design elements of the building and site.

JMF Properties was one of the developers of The Avenue apartment complex in South Orange, and was also part of a partnership with Eden Properties, which was formerly the developer of the PSE&G site.

JMF’s principal is Joe Forgione. “We know him and have dealt with him, and we feel confident in his ability,” said DeLuca.

The other candidates were JG Petrucci, Co., which developed The Station House apartment building on Dunnell Road at the site of the former Maplewood Police Station and Sterling Properties, which also was involved in The Avenue. The developers were interviewed by a screening committee consisting of the entire Township Committee, Business Administrator Joseph Manning, Township Attorney Roger Desiderio, Planning Board Chair Tom Carlson and Director of Community Relations Annette DePalma. and Maplewood Village Alliance manager Julie Doran.

The project is expected to start next year and be completed in 2016.

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