151 Rental Units Targeted For Churchill Redevelopment Area


Redevelopment Agency commissioners got the first peek June 20 at a plan to build 151 rental units along School Avenue and Berry Street.

Preliminary plans for a 151-apartment project in the township’s Churchill-Millstone Redevelopment Area were presented June 20 to the Redevelopment Agency.

Plans call for 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments – some in a townhouse design – with two new streets and a common green area.

The roughly 5-acre target area is bordered by Berry Street and School Avenue.

The project will be contained in 5  3-story buildings, the largest of which will hold 53 units, two more which will hold 43 units and the smallest of which will hold six units each.

Some of the units will be townhomes, said Seth Barton, of Barton Partners, the project’s architects. The units will feature direct-entry, unlike typical apartment complexes that have main doors opening into common hallways, he said.

Nearly half of the units – 45 percent – will be market-rate units, said Brendan McBride, vice president of redeveloper RPM Development Group of Montclair, the area’s overall developer.

The previous phase of the area’s redevelopment had only 20 percent market-rate units; McBride said RPM decided to “push the needle toward more market-rate units” after hearing the agency’s concerns on the topic at their last update meeting.

About 10 percent of the units will have three bedrooms, a fact that caused some concern among some of the agency’s board members.

Chairman Michael Gianotto, commissioner Robert Mettler and Township Councilman Carl R.A. Wright were concerned that three bedrooms might encourage families with children, which, they said, could have an impact on the school district.

“On the one hand, I’m loving this because people want to move here,” Wright said. “On the flip side, my school taxes go through the roof.”

RPM’s Dolly Soto said the 3-bedroom units will be targeted to Rutgers University students, who would be looking for places to share with other students.

Mark Healey, the township’s principal planner, noted that people at Rutgers other than students would be interested in finding places to live.

“There’s a tremendous number of people from Rutgers looking for housing, not just students,” Gianotto said.

Gianotto said, however, that the placement of housing near the township’s mini-dump might “make it a hard-sell.”

McBride said the company and its sub-contractor will now flesh out the plan, and will work to getting the project before the township Planning Board for approvals. He said the team will attend a Redevelopment Agency meeting in about two months to give commissioners an update.

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