professionalplanning

Transformational Two-Acre Municipal Park Planned for Woodcliff Lake

Transformational Two-Acre Municipal Park Planned for Woodcliff Lake 150 150 DMR Architects

A $500,000 grant from Bergen County and two anonymous donations totaling $1 million – $750,000 from a private person and $250,000 from a local corporation – have given a strong start to the construction of a park in Woodcliff Lake that is unlike any in New Jersey and will transform how residents interact with its downtown.

Previously home to the Galaxy Gardens Nursery, the municipality acquired the site at the intersection of Werimus Road and Woodcliff Lake Avenue in 2018. By connecting the two-acre parcel to the Westervelt-Lydecker House and the municipal pool and athletic fields, DMR’s designs for the site creates a recreation, cultural and civic corridor featuring a passive great lawn, water feature, dog park, picnic areas, pergolas for shaded seating, a playground, as well as an amphitheater with a stage for concerts and other public venues.  Other elements of the municipal park include walking paths with an approximately quarter mile loop, lighting, and landscaping.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to provide our residents with a central gathering place in our Borough,” said Mayor Carlos Rendo.  “Woodcliff Lake’s history, athletics, entertainment, and outdoor living will all come together in one place, creating a community asset that will be unique to our extraordinary community.”

“We only get to do this once, and by patiently reviewing a wide array of concepts and then meticulously planning this use, we’ve arrived at something we can all be proud of – and something that already has drawn spectacular support from the private sector. The construction of this park will provide an integrated home to the resources and activities in Woodcliff Lake that not only will serve and delight our residents but become a focal point for the arts and sports communities in Bergen County,” said Council President Jacqueline Gadaleta.

“Meaningful and vibrant outdoor spaces like this one are essential to residents’ health and quality of life and will have a positive impact on the community for generations,” said Francis
Reiner, PP, LLA, Director of Planning & Redevelopment, Partner for DMR Architects. “DMR has a long history of designing green spaces that have profoundly transformed the surrounding
neighborhoods and how they are used. The design of this park is one of the more unique opportunities we have been involved with and we are excited to be part of such an important project with the Borough and its residents.”

“We want to congratulate Woodcliff Lake on creating a productive collaboration with a broad array of constituencies and stakeholders to arrive at this wonderful plan,” says County Executive James Tedesco. “Woodcliff Lake has found impassioned and motivated partners, including Bergen County for a project that will be a benefit to everyone.”

The borough continues to seek corporate and foundation donors for the $3.7 million project and is offering individual and family sponsorship opportunities that will be commemorated in the park.  Woodcliff Lake collects between $210K and $225K per year through its open space tax which will go toward paying off any potential bond for the project.

Hanover’s River Park Town Center to Transform 88 Acres into Municipality’s First Walkable Downtown District

Hanover’s River Park Town Center to Transform 88 Acres into Municipality’s First Walkable Downtown District 789 444 DMR Architects

Construction has begun on the first phase to transform 88 acres in the Whippany area of Hanover Township into the DMR Architects-designed River Park Town Center, a downtown destination featuring 967 residential units, 80,000 SF of retail, two 125-room extended stay hotels, an outdoor amphitheater, and the completion of the Patriot Trail along the Whippany River. The first phase includes the construction of building one of eleven, and will offer 81 residential units, a pool, a fitness center and community amenities.

DMR’s plans for the first town center in Hanover Township’s 220+ year history will completely transform the way that people and businesses interface with the area that is currently largely populated by corporate office campuses.

“The creative challenge in Hanover was to design something that served a lot of functions that are completely new here while still preserving the community character and existing physical and natural landscaping,” said Francis Reiner, Redevelopment Consultant and Partner for DMR Architects.  “This is a great example of pro-active municipal planning and placemaking and the successful collaboration of a municipality, developer, planners and architects. This project will promote smart growth with elements that will appeal to residents, shoppers, employers and their staffs.”

When completed, River Park Town Center will also feature more than 20 acres of public recreation space including an amphitheater and park, generous convocation areas for community engagement, and deck, curbside and surface lot parking options. More than 40% of the land will be left in its natural state.

DMR’s Culture of Collegiality and Use of Technology Keep 150 Projects Valued at Nearly $1 Billion in Construction on Track During Pandemic

DMR’s Culture of Collegiality and Use of Technology Keep 150 Projects Valued at Nearly $1 Billion in Construction on Track During Pandemic 789 444 DMR Architects

Despite the challenges we are all facing due to COVID-19, today we are happy to share some good news: nearly all of the 150 projects that make up our nearly $1 billion pipeline have remained actively under development or construction throughout the pandemic.

These projects include significant progress in projects across all sectors. Construction is near completion on The Residences at 30 Court, a luxury apartment building in Morristown and the design of Wyndham Place at Ridgefield Park is underway, bringing our rental unit count to 4,500. The DMR team is also currently working at 80 schools, including renovation projects at 44 facilities in New York City, and new schools in Carteret, Plainfield, and Paterson in New Jersey. Our team also continues to marry functionality and aesthetics at public facilities throughout New Jersey and is currently working on municipal building projects for Monmouth County and the municipalities of Montgomery, Ridgefield, and Red Bank. DMR’s municipal planning team is now working as the municipal planner in Dunellen and Roselle.

“I’m very proud that across all our practice areas we’ve maintained our culture of collaboration despite our staff being physically separated by shelter-in-place directives,” Lloyd Rosenberg, President and CEO, said.  “Each of our team members are trained in the most innovative planning and communication tools available, and take personal pride in each project to ensure that the long-term goals of our clients are met in the same way they would without a quarantine and its complications.”

Hackensack Redevelopment Summit Celebrates Milestones and Sets Vision for its Future

Hackensack Redevelopment Summit Celebrates Milestones and Sets Vision for its Future 789 444 DMR Architects

Elected Officials and leaders from the public and private sectors including Hackensack’s Mayor John P. LaBrosse, Jr., Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino and representatives from Hekemian & Company Inc., Russo Development, HornRock Properties, Claremont Companies, Heritage Capital, Waypoint Residential, Lighthouse Living, and DMR Architects celebrated Hackensack’s revitalization accomplishments and set a vision for its future at the recent Hackensack Redevelopment Summit.

At the event, hosted by the City of Hackensack and the Performing Arts Center, developers were invited to continue to fulfill the vision outlined in the City of Hackensack’s Downtown Rehabilitation Plan, which includes improvements to transportation alternatives, parks and open spaces, retail, restaurants and biosciences.

“The success of the City’s revitalization efforts is based on the public and private sector’s ability to work together to create a vibrant mixed-use downtown,” Francis Reiner, partner with DMR Architects and Redevelopment Consultant for the City of Hackensack, stated.  “This was an opportunity for the City, and its partners to set new goals and a vision for the next eight to 10 years.”

The transformation of the City of Hackensack, which began in 2012 with the conversion of an underutilized parking lot into the Atlantic Street Park and the construction of adjacent Performing Arts Center, has advanced to include more than 20 redevelopment plans with more than 3,000 residential units with an estimated half billion dollars of private investments within and surrounding the downtown.

The City continues to implement its visions with the conversion of Main Street back to two way, which is set to be completed by the end of summer 2019.  These improvements will include new streetscape to go along with opening of several mixed-use projects on Main Street.

“The ideas that were set forth at the Summit by the City and the developers will help shape the future for the City,” Reiner stated.

Projects like Heritage Capitals conversion of the former Bank of America Building, Russo Developments redevelopment of the former Record Site, HornRock/Russo’s redevelopment of Lot C adjacent to Foschini Park, as well as Claremont Companiesand Waypoint Residentials projects on Main Street represent the next group of developments that are under construction to offer downtown living within the City.

 

East Brunswick Route 18 Redevelopment

East Brunswick Route 18 Redevelopment Moves Forward

East Brunswick Route 18 Redevelopment Moves Forward 789 444 DMR Architects

The redevelopment of one of New Jersey’s busiest commercial corridors, Route 18 in East Brunswick, is underway, with the latest step forward coming in the form of two RFPs to developers.

Last summer, the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency retained DMR to develop several redevelopment plans on numerous tracts of land within the Township.

On one of those tracts, 88 acres that includes the Route 18 shopping center and Loehmanns Plaza, DMR developed a redevelopment plan that will bring these lots, all currently under performing or vacant, to life. Despite traffic of more 100,000 cars daily, Route 18 has one of the highest vacancy rates in the State, a challenge that the Township needed to address among other issues including a lack of a downtown center, a growing suburban population and a high volume of commuters who travel to the Township on their way to New York City.

As part of this effort, DMR developed multiple concept plans which called for a town center, including 95,000 SF of retail, 700 units of residential, 62,000 SF of office space, and a parking structure. The plan also includes a hotel, a boulevard and open space.

The RFPs to developers, released last week, are an important step toward implementing needed change.

“We are so excited to welcome a developer to our dedicated team of professionals who are pushing forward our 2020 Vision,” Mayor Brad Cohen said, “Located at the center of the State and close to Rutgers, every major highway and the shore, we are hopeful this project will attract significant interest from the development community.

Hackensack: A Redevelopment

Hackensack: A Redevelopment 960 540 DMR Architects

by Francis Reiner, PP, LLA, Senior Urban Designer, Redevelopment Consultant/Partner

As densely populated as New Jersey is and as much development as we have seen over the last decade, there remain many once thriving communities struggling to regain relevance. Like many of these proud communities, Hackensack’s fate was sealed back in the 1970’s, with the advent of the malls and proliferation of land use policies that promoted isolated land uses where people would work in one location and live another. Previously esteemed communities like Hackensack slowly died from the inside. Left with little to no residential, high vacancy rates and low rents, these suburban downtown centers become desolate, dangerous areas with little opportunity for revitalization. Even today, there are many communities struggling to create a strategy to recover their vitality without having to compromise their vision and values.

It’s been a long road for Hackensack. Understanding all of the layers, all of the details, all of the pieces that have to be considered from the very start through every decision that is made every day to support the goals, objectives and vision for the City can be daunting. Most people would have given up on the thought that one day Hackensack would have another day in the sun and even with dozens of projects underway, there are still doubters. Even communities who can correctly articulate a strategy that takes into account the complexities of a changing demographic society looking to live and work in ways that no previous generations considered are lost for lack of the most essential element to revitalization: a plan.

But unlike many communities, Hackensack took this first step in redevelopment—which is the hardest to take. A plan may sound simple, and at the beginning it is: create a vision that represents the goals and objectives of the community. Then, identify public initiatives, plans, zoning, projects necessary to encourage the maximum amount of private investments and it quickly becomes more complicated. The plan also needs to maximize private investments in an area with numerous property owners, failing infrastructure, with poor circulation, that lacks parking and provides little to no entertainment without the use of condemnation within an existing and constrained 2% municipal budget. Each decision has to be weighed and measured to understand the financial implications while continuing to seek what is best for both its existing and future residents.

The key is to create a plan that promotes private redevelopment, increases tax revenue and enhances the community in a manner that meets the goals and objectives of the residents that is realistic for both the municipality and for the development community. Too many plans are written that are either not practically realistic or are not financially feasible. This key aspect is one of the most important differences from a plan that sits on a shelf, to a project that gets built. For municipalities, the professionals that represent you and their knowledge of development, costs and construction is a critical component to the creation of a plan.

For Hackensack, this meant creating zoning that encouraged land assemblages by creating a two tiered as of right zoning within the downtown. For small individual properties, a non-catalyst zone was created, which promoted smaller scaled redevelopment with appropriate parking ratios. However, for developers that assembled multiple properties that fronted on Main Street (Min. 200’) a catalyst zone was created, which permitted higher density development with lower parking ratios. For Hackensack’s revitalization this was a key component. Without the use of eminent domain and without any existing large land owners, creating zoning that promoted land assemblage allowed development to move forward. This along with designating a large enough area that allowed developers to find willing sellers without having such a large area that development could feel scattered and unconnected was a crucial first step in creating a vision for the downtown. The result of these strategies was that real estate brokers started to assemble multiple properties and package them for potential developers to consider.

In addition, the implementation of a streamlined submittal, review and approval process through the adoption of a Preliminary Review Committee Process, that gave developers a more certain understanding of the timeline and schedule. Architectural and Streetscape Design Standards were included in the Rehabilitation Plan and every Redevelopment Plan that has since been adopted. These standards represent the architectural design and scale that is consistent with the vision of the community and are the key to getting the look and design of a building during site plan approval.

The final piece was the City’s willingness to consider long term financial incentives to potential developers as a means to move development forward. This tool provides the City with significant increases in revenue that can be invested back into the City in the form of infrastructure improvements and new community facilities. For Hackensack that included the construction of a new public park, the renovation of a 140 year old abandoned building into a state of the art Performing Arts Center, the renovation and expansion of a Community and Recreation Facility, the design of new streetscape, the separation of combined stormwater and sewer system and the conversion Main and State Street back to two way. Fiscal responsibility included hiring an independent financial analyst to review each proposed PILOT.

Hackensack has attracted more than $500 million in private investment in less than 10 years, providing an example for the revitalization ambitions of other communities. Today, there are more that 750 new residential units under construction, with another 750 units that will start construction in 2018 and more than 2,000 additional units planned for in the next 5 to 7 years. The City recently opened a state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center and an award winning downtown park. The conversion of Main Street to two-way traffic is under construction and will include new streetscape and much needed and long overdue infrastructure improvements—all paid for by the revenues generated by redevelopment. The plan put in place only six short years ago is working.

City of Bayonne Redevelopment

The City of Bayonne Advances with Redevelopment Efforts

The City of Bayonne Advances with Redevelopment Efforts 789 444 DMR Architects

On August 15 the Bayonne Planning Board unanimously approved the city’s updated Master Plan, another step forward in the city’s efforts to continue economic stability and promote revitalization in the municipality of more than 66,000. The Master Plan, developed by DMR, calls for “station area plans” that will provide mixed-use redevelopment in the neighborhoods surrounding the city’s four light rail stations; revitalizing the main Broadway corridor; and addressing abandoned properties.

The task of reexamining the master plan included a multi-tiered public involvement process which entailed consensus building through meetings with a steering committee and staff, and three public workshops in which more than 400 people participated. An online survey was also conducted and gathered more than 1,000 responses.

As an extension of the reexamination study, DMR also completed a feasibility analysis for a private ferry system from Bayonne to New York City. This process was initiated with an online survey to determine the demand for a commuter ferry from the Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY).

The study used existing commuter and census data, socio-economic information, and times to determine the existing and future markets for ferry use. In addition to ridership projections, the study determined the number of stops and most likely destination to support the implementation. The process included research, census data, GIS mapping, online surveys, and on site interviews, as well as input from NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

 

Here’s what Bayonne residents are saying about city’s Master Plan

Here’s what Bayonne residents are saying about city’s Master Plan 960 540 DMR Architects

Bayonne Residents Discuss City's Master Plan

Several dozen residents gathered in Bayonne’s Council Chambers for a public workshop to discuss the city’s new Master Plan. June 26, 2017. (Corey McDonald – The Jersey Journal)

by Corey W. McDonald

BAYONNE — Rarely does a public meeting in the City Hall’s Council Chambers go without minor squabbles, rising tensions, and even full-blown arguments.

Monday’s gathering at City Hall took on a decidedly different tone.

Several dozen residents attended an open public workshop to discuss the draft of the city’s new Master Plan and give their opinions of future development in the Peninsula City.

After a quick synopsis of the plan’s central suggestions, residents broke up into teams to discuss their opinions on the proposal, as well as specific aspects of the city. They then presented their consensus to the rest of the attendees.

A Master Plan is a legal document adopted by a municipality roughly every 10 years that provides long term goals for development, preservation, transportation, and other aspects of the city’s future.

The workshop was headed by Francis Reiner of DMR Architects, the architectural firm hired by the city to design the plan.

The 175-page document, which is available to read on the city’s website, covers practically every facet of the municipality, but the main focus of the plan is development and where it should be prioritized within the city.

Reiner, who along with his team has been working on the plan for more than a year, summarized the proposal’s suggestion to prioritize development in specific areas called “Station Area Plans” near the city’s light rail stations on Eighth, 22nd, 34th and 45th streets.

“The question is how do you encourage appropriate development (and) how do you protect the existing one- and two-family homes from development occurring right next to them,” Reiner said during the workshop.

He added: “The report really talks about focusing development into a few limited areas in Bayonne and no longer having this kind of piecemeal development… What we’re recommending is that there are clearly identified areas where development should occur in Bayonne… So the goal here is to focus development into those zones that are appropriate so that we can preserve the existing residences and neighborhoods.”

After the presentation, workshop attendees broke up into four groups to discuss the plan and to provide their own suggestions, which Reiner and his team will use for a revised draft that the city will post on its website.

Residents discussed a number of aspects of the Station Area Plans, including suggestions on the size of the development zones.

Peter Franco, a resident of the city who was speaking on behalf on one of the groups, said they wanted to reduce the targeted areas of development from one-quarter mile radii surrounding the stations to one-tenth mile radii.

Franco also suggested consolidating Broadway’s shopping district: “If you look at Chicago, they have a mile-long shopping district and they have a lot of people in Chicago; we have a three-mile long shopping district and we have (roughly) 70,000 people, so realistically its just not sustainable. Consolidating that would make sense.”

There were also suggestions regarding the plan’s proposed rubber trolley that would serve to transport pedestrians east and west from the train stations to Avenue A in order to alleviate parking congestion in the city.

“I think everybody recognized the need for the east-west connection but nobody was particularly approving (in our group) of the trolley plan in its current incarnation,” said Laura Wildes, a resident representing one of the groups.

Other groups, however, said the trolley would provide the city with an “old-fashioned” feel.

Groups were also largely in consensus that the plan’s height recommendation for new development projects—eight to 10 stories—was too high, and five to six stories was about right.

Development wasn’t the only aspect on residents’ minds: participants discussed abandoned religious sites in the city, the need for an assisted living facility for seniors, the longevity of PILOTs given to developers, etc.

But all of the groups pointed to the completion of the Hudson River Walkway and the Hackensack River Walkway, as priorities for the city.

The Hudson River Walkway—which in theory would extend from the George Washington Bridge down to First Street of Bayonne—is incomplete largely due to the old industrial sites on Bayonne’s eastern waterfront. But the Hackensack River Waterfront has potential to be completed with no interference. Resident even suggested establishing commerce on the city’s western walkway.

“What we may not get on the east side, we can certainly get on the west side and I think it would be appealing for the community to have,” Franco said.

After writing a revised draft, Reiner and DMR Architects will present it to he city’s planning board and city council to vote.

Reiner said the firm would like to have a final plan for approval by the council by the end of the summer.

This article originally appeared on NJ.com.