Park N Shop plans re­vised

Drive-thru gone; stu­dent apart­ments re­main

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

In re­sponse to con­cerns from the com­mu­nity, own­ers of the Park N Shop have elim­i­nated a pro­posed drive-thru cof­fee shop from their plans to re­de­velop a por­tion of the South Main Street shop­ping cen­ter.

How­ever, the gist of their pro­posal re­mains the same. The plan, sub­mit­ted to the city last month, calls for de­mol­ish­ing the shut­tered M&T Bank build­ing and re­plac­ing it with a 10,600-square-foot, three-stor y build­ing con­tain­ing re­tail space on the first floor and 12 stu­dent apart­ments on the sec­ond and third floors. There would be eight four-bed­room apart­ments and two two-bed­room apart­ments for a to­tal of 44 oc­cu­pants.

Most of the ex­ist­ing, re­cently ren­o­vated re­tail space at the shop­ping cen­ter would re­main, though plans call for de­mol­ish­ing the western-most por­tion of the build­ing – which Park N Shop Liquors oc­cu­pied be­fore it moved else­where in the shop­ping cen­ter – to pro­vide more park­ing and cre­ate an end-cap unit.

The project re­quires a com­pre­hen­sive de­vel­op­ment plan amend­ment, re­zon­ing, ma­jor sub­di­vi­sion, spe­cial-use per­mit and park­ing waiver.

A re­view by the plan­ning com­mis­sion has not been sched­uled, but last week, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of DSM Com­mer­cial held an in­for­mal pub­lic meet­ing to talk about their project and at­tempt to win sup­port from com­mu­nity mem­bers.

“There’s a shared vi­sion for this site,” DSM at­tor­ney Mike Hoff­man said, af­firm­ing the com­pany’s de­sire to bring in com­mer­cial ten­ants that will ben­e­fit the sur­round­ing res­i­dents.

The Oct. 4 meet­ing was the sec­ond DSM has held at the urg­ing of coun­cilmem­bers Jen Wal­lace and Chris Hamilton. At the first meet­ing in June, res­i­dents ex­pressed sev­eral con­cerns, in­clud­ing that the pro­posed drive-thru would bring in­creased traf­fic and noise from the speaker.

DSM elim­i­nated the drive-thru, caus­ing the cof­fee shop ten­ant to pull out of the project.

“That par­tic­u­lar ten­ant re­ally only wanted to be the ten­ant if the drive-thru was there,” DSM Man­ag­ing Part­ner Tripp Way said, with­out nam­ing the com­pany in ques­tion.

Both Way and Hoff­man said they want to at­tract “com­mu­nity-type ameni­ties” to the pro­posed re­tail space as well as the three ex­ist­ing va­can­cies. Such busi­nesses could in­clude a cof­fee shop, an ice-cream shop or a res­tau­rant, they said.

Re­cently, the cen­ter wel­comed two new stu­dent-cen­tric busi­nesses: D.P. Dough, a late-night cal­zone spot, and Good Un­cle, a de­liv­ery-only food ser­vice that op­er­ates out of a build­ing be­hind the main re­tail strip.

DSM would not dis­close any other pos­si­ble ten­ants.

“We’re ap­proached very of­ten by po­ten­tial ten­ants, but we’ve been ex­tremely se­lec­tive,” Way said. “We don’t want to just fill it with any ten­ant.”

De­spite the re­moval of the driv­ethru, many of the at­ten­dees at last week’s meet­ing still had some con­cerns, with sev­eral not­ing they don’t want more stu­dent apart­ments in the area. Oth­ers wor­ried that if the en­tire prop­erty is re­zoned, as DSM is re­quest­ing, the com­pany could later re­place the ex­ist­ing build­ing with apart­ments as well, though a sep­a­rate spe­cialuse per­mit would be re­quired.

“I know more money can be made putting stu­dents in, but we need to think about the com­mu­nity,” res­i­dent Jean White said, sug­gest­ing of­fice space in­stead of apart­ments.

Way said he doesn’t be­lieve that would be fea­si­ble.

“Of­fice space in the city of Ne­wark is not in huge de­mand at this point in time,” he said.

Robert Wit­tig, an­other DSM of­fi­cial, added that res­i­den­tial space is nec­es­sary to cre­ate a sense of place and ar­gued that it fits the char­ac­ter of South Main Street, which in re­cent years has seen a num­ber of new apart­ment build­ings. He also hinted that elim­i­nat­ing the apart­ments would im­peril DSM’s abil­ity to con­tinue with the project.

“It’s not about mak­ing more money, it’s about mak­ing this work,” Wit­tig said.

SUB­MIT­TED IM­AGE

A pro­posed project at the Park N Shop would re­place the va­cant bank build­ing with a three-story struc­ture con­tain­ing re­tail space and 12 stu­dent apart­ments.

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