In the last two decades, the main business district in the Essex County township of Montclair, known as Montclair Center, has seen a transformation of sorts. Several new development projects and new businesses are turning the neighborhood into one of the most vibrant downtowns in the region.
Now, a new proposal could build upon an existing attraction in one section of Montclair Center, that has not had as much investment as other areas, and combine it with a new development project to create a new mixed-use complex.
The plans call for the development to be constructed near South Willow Street at the site of the STS Tire center, the one-story former U.S. Social Security Administration facility, and a parking lot at 370-372 Bloomfield Avenue, 396 Bloomfield Avenue, and along Seymour Street, respectively. Developer BSREP II Wellmont GSA, LLC acquired the former Social Security building in 2015 from the federal government for $2.425 million, according to NJ Parcels records. The property is located within walking distance of NJ TRANSIT’s Bay Street Station on the Montclair-Boonton Line as well as local bus service.
Renderings from Marchetto Higgins Stieve posted by Katz & Associates show that the project would be built around the historic Wellmont Theater, which regularly hosts concerts and other events, and would be developed in partnership with Brookfield and the Pinnacle Companies. It would include a six-story building with 200 residential units, a lobby and lounge for residents, four retail spaces with a combined 29,835 square feet, and 81 indoor parking spaces. A seven-story building would also be constructed across the block next to the Wellmont Theater that would contain a parking garage and office space, according to Montclair Local.
Plus, the part of Seymour Street closest to Bloomfield Avenue outside the theater would be closed to vehicular traffic and converted into a 14,000 square foot landscaped pedestrian arts plaza with an attached walkway to the South Fullerton Avenue parking lot. The Montclair Historic Preservation Commission approved the proposed plaza design in April, but made several recommendations, including that a ‘flowing water feature’ “which would serve as a visual and sound element in the plaza” be installed, that stringing lights be installed across the wires “for a more unique visual effect,” and that digital signage advertising upcoming eents be installed along Bloomfield Avenue.
According to The Montclair Times, there has been some opposition from local residents who are concerned about the project’s size and potential extra congestion in the neighborhood, and some formed a group called Vision Montclair.