A recently approved development proposal could lead to major changes for a sizable group of properties in Essex County’s second-largest city.
Last month, the East Orange Planning Board memorialized their approval of an application by a developer seeking to construct a five-story mixed-use complex on eight adjacent tracts near the northeast corner of North Walnut and William Streets. The proposal by North Walnut Urban Renewal involves building 172 residential units, 3,409 square feet of retail space, and 206 parking spaces, according to a public notice.
The approval comes after the East Orange City Council officially designated the applicant as the redeveloper of the site in July. A resolution introduced by Councilman Casim Gomez regarding the designation stated that the developer “was preliminarily interviewed by representatives of the Policy, Planning, and Development Department” and that the residential portion of the project is expected to consist of “mixed income” rental units.
The parent company of the development firm was not named in the resolution. However, during an August 2018 municipal meeting, there was discussion of a slightly different project being proposed for the site by Hunterdon County-based J.G. Petrucci Company, Inc. and West Orange-based TD+Partners, both of which are also involved in a separate development of the Arcadian Gardens site on Sussex Avenue. Minutes from the December 2018 meeting of the East Orange Housing Authority also mentioned that J.G. Petrucci Company, Inc. and TD+Partners were “selected as development partners” and that there were “weekly planning meetings being held” to discuss the project on North Walnut and William Streets.
The latter company’s website currently features a rendering of the project and describes it as a $42 million development designed by OCA Architects that could be finished in 2020. However, there are some differences between the summary of the project described in the public notice and the description posted by TD+Partners, with the company’s version listing plans for 240 units, 10,000 square feet of retail space, an art gallery, and a kitchen incubator.
Located not far from the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts, Rowley Park, and the train station opposite East Orange City Hall, the properties in question include 374, 376, and 384 William Street along with 88 and 96 North Walnut Street. Although property records indicate that the East Orange Housing Authority owns these long-vacant tracts, the resolution states that the developer is the “ground lessee.”
In addition, the project is expected to include neighboring 392 William Street and 84-86 North Walnut Street, both of which are commercial buildings that have been occupied by businesses such as East Orange Supermarket, Deya Beauty Salon, Sky High Fashions, New Gold Rose Liquors, and Jenny Deli and Grocery. The resolution mentioned that these two properties “will be acquired for the purpose of redevelopment and will become part of the ground lease,” while TD+Partners’ website states that “the developers will pursue a strategy to convert these structures into community assets, namely a neighborhood food market.”