The Bayonne Planning Board has unanimously approved a 10-story mixed-use development on the corner of West 12th Street and Broadway that many hope will inject new commercial and cultural energy into its neighborhood.
Originally slated for a public hearing at the November planning board meeting, the application for the development was moved to December due to an objector’s case. But after four hours of expert testimonials, resident comments, and questions from the planning board, the development was approved.
Another 10-story tower
The application for the development at 9-11 West 12th Street and 281, 283-287, and 289 Broadway was presented by attorney Michael Miceli on behalf of Bayonne Equities B II Urban Renewal, LLC. Across the street is a QuickChek and blocks away is the 8th Street Station of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail.
The current site consists of vacant buildings, including an out-of-service car wash, parking lot, closed restaurant, and shuttered barbershop. Project architect Yossi Melamed said the existing area was “unattractive” and “uninviting.”
Rising 135 feet, the 10-story mixed-use development will consist of 100 residential units, with approximately 106 parking spaces. The building will feature two retail spaces and a number of amenities.
The building will house a wide range of units to accommodate all potential tenants in the area, Melamed said. The 100 residential units will consist of 29 one-bedrooms, 10 one-bedroom units with an office room, 51 two-bedrooms, and 10 three-bedrooms.
The one-bedroom units with an office are unique and very attractive to people working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Melamed. The office space has no closet, no windows, and an oversized door entry to prevent tenants from converting the room into a bedroom.
The units are intended for condos, not rentals.
The facade will be made of “high quality materials,” including glass, metal, brick, panels, and masonry. Featuring tones of grey and yellow, the development “stands out” but is “respectful to neighbors,” Melamed said.
The structure is designed with many setbacks starting at the sixth floor, to reduce shadows cast by the nearby building, and break up the mass of the building.
Amenities and commercial space
Amenities include a lobby, storage area, mail room, lounge, multipurpose room, children’s play room, business center, indoor pool and fitness center. There will be two terraces, one on the second floor and one on the roof.
There will also be greenery on the ground floor. Trees will be installed along the sidewalk on West 12th Street and Broadway. Greenery will be planted on a side wall on West 12th Street.
One of the commercial spaces will be on the corner, and the other will be on the Broadway side. Melamed said the corner retail space will activate pedestrian activity. However, no potential tenants have yet been identified.
The new building will promote safety and security in the area with the addition of new lighting fixtures on the sidewalk as well as light from the building. The lighting and the increased pedestrian activity make the area safer, especially late at night, according to the developer.
Parking, traffic, and trash
There will be four levels of parking: one below ground, one at ground level, and two above. The parking structure exists within the building separately from the residential areas.
The entrance to the parking garage is on West 12th Street. The street is one way, meaning tenants would turn onto West 12th Street from Broadway to enter the parking garage, and exit on Avenue C.
Project engineer Joe Sparone said that a traffic study had been conducted on the area. The study found that the existing street system will not be affected by the new development because there is good traffic circulation in the area and “adequate parking.” Traffic will not be affected, according to the study.
There will be a trash room on each floor with a chute that leads to the trash compactor in the basement. Once compacted, the trash will be wheeled outside the building and removed by a private hauler. The hauler will pick up the trash during non-rush hours to avoid causing traffic.
Chairwoman Karen Fiermonte voiced her concerns over the transparency levels of the large scale windows in the building, asking if residents would be able to see into the apartment from the sidewalk.
Both Melamed and Miceli said that the building will feature a “high quality glaze” that will offer some level of tint. The developer will also promote uniformity within the windows.
Commissioner Ramon Veloz, noting the many residents who use wheelchairs on Broadway, questioned if the two retail spaces would have wheelchair access. According to Melamed, the site would be completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), especially in terms of the two commercial spaces.
Commissioner Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski echoed Fiermonte’s sentiment regarding the window tint. She also pushed for more greenery on the site, specifically on the Broadway side. Site plans showed there are plans to install only one tree on the sidewalk along Broadway.
Ashe-Nadrowski suggested adding more trees on the Broadway sidewalk, as well as some benches for pedestrians. Miceli responded that the developer will provide more trees and some benches, noting that they will work with the city to upgrade the streetscape and “activate the pedestrian space.”
City Planner Mika Apte voiced her concerns over the office room in the one-bedroom units. Apte asked if the developer would reduce the size of the room to make sure a queen-sized mattress could not fit in the room. Melamed agreed and said the size of the room will be reduced by expanding the closet of the bedroom.
Residents react well
Carolyn Francatella lives at 17 West 12th Street, directly next door to the site of the development. Her home is separated from the development by a driveway.
Francatella said she has “no opposition” to the development and that the new building “will be better for the area than what is there now.” However, she was worried about her home during the construction period, and asked what steps might be taken to protect the surrounding properties.
Melamed said that the developer will follow all safety guidelines for construction. Sparone said that the construction team is led by a licensed engineer who will make sure that the surrounding properties would not be negatively impacted. He said the construction site will be up to code, meet all safety requirements, and will undergo various inspections throughout construction.
Steve Dorak, of 291 Broadway, expressed his full support for the application, calling the redevelopment of the area “a long time coming.” Dorak said he constructed his building nearby in hopes of sparking redevelopment and now “is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel” with the approval of the development.
An objector’s case was presented by attorney Steven Rose representing James Fischer, a resident of the home next to the development. While Rose said Fischer is objecting to the development on behalf of other homeowners in the neighborhood, he was representing only Fischer.
Rose argued on behalf of his client, who is not in opposition to the development itself, but that a shorter structure would suit the neighborhood better.
Rose presented a witness, architect Thomas Mesuk, who testified that the building would work better with the surrounding area if it were eight stories and if the setbacks began at the third floor instead of the sixth floor. Mesuk said that the 10-story building will cast massive shadows and block air flow to the neighborhood.
Overall, Rose sought the height of the building to be reduced to eight stories and that a buffer zone be instituted between the neighboring homes and the development.
Project planner Ed Kolling said that a buffer zone is not necessary because zone lines are drawn on property lines with one zone on each side. In urban areas, buffer zones are not necessary, according to Kolling.
Despite the objector’s case, the planning board voted unanimously to approve the application.
Ashe-Nadrowski said that while some residents spoke against the development, some residents spoke in favor of it. Regardless, she said everyone realizes that the area needs an improvement, and this is the perfect opportunity.
While Ashe-Nadrowski understands the shadow issue, she said the experts explained there were steps taken to minimize that, such as the setbacks and angling of the structure.
Chairwoman Fiermonte echoed the words of Dorak, that development was “a long time coming.”
Vice Chairwoman Maria Valado said the project was much needed at the corner.
Veloz said the “beautiful project” may be tall, “but it’s what Bayonne needs.”
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