redevelopment

Transformational Two-Acre Municipal Park Planned for Woodcliff Lake

Transformational Two-Acre Municipal Park Planned for Woodcliff Lake 789 444 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 Joins Genesis Companies and the East Orange Housing Authority in Breaking Ground on Senior Supportive Housing Development

DMR Joins Genesis Companies and the East Orange Housing Authority in Breaking Ground on Senior Supportive Housing Development 960 540 DMR Architects

Above: Henry Ossi, third from left and Kurt Vierheilig, fourth from left, of DMR Architects join representatives from Genesis Companies, The Metro Company and the City of East Orange, including Mayor Ted R. Green, at the groundbreaking of the East Orange Senior Residences on May 11. Photo courtesy of The Metro Company.

On May 11 DMR joined local dignitaries and project stakeholders in celebrating the groundbreaking of the East Orange Senior Residences located on Halsted Street in East Orange, NJ. Developed in partnership with Genesis Companies, the East Orange Housing Authority and The Metro Company, DMR designed the project which will ultimately provide a new, 61,000-square-foot senior supporting housing development.

Addressing a critical need for affordable senior residences, the 60-unit building will be 100% affordable and comprised of 52 one-bedroom and 8 two-bedroom residences, with 15 units set-aside and marketed to homeless persons and several units designed to accommodate the needs of residents with disabilities.

“This redevelopment, part of our ‘Building Homes, Changing Lives’ program, will greatly enhance the quality of life for the property’s residents and provide services that are too often overlooked,” said Wilbert Gill, Executive Director of the East Orange Housing Authority.

“Just as we know there is a critical need for affordable housing in New Jersey, we know that there is an overwhelming desire among adults to age in place, and continue to live in the communities they grew up in” said Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Design and Partner for DMR Architects. “This project is especially meaningful as we are doing our part to provide a safe and attractive place to call home to many who need it.”

The building also includes 8,000 square feet of administrative offices for the East Orange Housing Authority, 1,755 square feet of indoor community space and 1,400 square feet of outdoor space for the residents.

Making Work From Home…Work

Making Work From Home…Work 960 540 DMR Architects

by Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Design/Partner

Maybe at first it was your kitchen counter. Or your living room with the TV on mute. Or even your bedroom using your bookcase as background for a Zoom Meeting. This is the new normal – working from home during the COVID Pandemic.

Another COVID wave is here. We’re still working from home, still on Zoom calls, still attempting to find the quietest corner of the home to grind out the latest project. After more than eight months – DMR Architects is learning how to adapt. Not only how to modify your current space – but how to plan and build for a future where your home IS your workplace.

It’s a difficult task. Half of the developers DMR works with expect a return to normal. The other half are planning for a future where we work from home permanently. Either way you look at it, even before 2020—through technology—our workplaces have been folding into our everyday lives; the pandemic was the tipping point that pushed us to where we are today.

As a multi-family apartment designer – DMR Architects is all about flexibility. The big issue everyone has is separating your personal and professional space. For a one-bedroom apartment it is usually a single person or a couple. In these circumstances, distractions can usually be mitigated. For a two bedroom or more, it can be more challenging but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options.

With two bedrooms it probably means there is a child in the home. But that also means you still have two rooms and that gives you the ability to have a little more separation. Build out a nook for your work area. If you do have extra space,  designate a desk for working or home schooling.

In new concepts, DMR has been incorporating a nook in the living space, reconfiguring the floor plan and creating an indented area where you can have a desk, shelf, and space for multiple computer monitors. Incorporating that into the floor plan essentially adds an additional space inside either a one- or two-bedroom apartment.

In the past DMR has incorporated dens into many of our designs. Traditionally those dens are located near the rear of the unit and not optimal for working from home while co-existing with your family. DMR is exploring the possibility of orienting the door differently to let the natural light filter into that space. In some designs DMR is looking at giving priority to the den and moving it towards the front of the unit, allowing for more light since it would be up against the exterior wall. While these concepts are still evolving and DMR is gauging developer feedback, it is a direct response to the demand of a working environment inside a dwelling unit.

That being said, there are other ways to modify your current space to work from home and maintain the public/private aspects of this new normal. You can screen off your work area with bifold or pocket-style doors. This provides the availability of natural light when you’re not working (remember getting your daily exposure to natural light is equally beneficial to how much sleep you get) but also allows you to gain privacy when you’re focused on a work project or on a conference call with colleagues.

One of the more interesting developments that is being discussed is the use of technology – specifically touch-free technology. Apps to call elevators, apps to open doors, automated entrances into the lobby of the buildings, and even hologram interfaces to minimize contact points. Even with best sanitization procedures, residents want the least amount of touch points as possible, especially because these are multifamily dwellings with lots of people coming and going.  The great thing is that this technology already exists, it just needs to be incorporated into the current infrastructure.

DMR is focusing on this new work environment with the emphasis on the improvement on your everyday health, wellbeing, and overall work/life balance. Often a building might be designed with minimum sized windows for light and ventilation according to building codes. At DMR we are exploring how we can maximize that exterior wall to bring in as much light as possible. Along with that – the use of balconies. These balconies become the outdoor space, and in a multi-family project – especially for people under quarantine – we are seeing a resurgence in these spaces along with ground level units with larger patios.

DMR knows that these things contribute to tenants’ wellness with work at home situations becoming the standard. That five-foot by eight-foot piece of real estate outside, access to natural light and flexible spaces all a huge difference in a person’s life – and that’s what our mission is. Making your life better.

How can state and local leaders help bring new foot traffic to their downtowns?

How can state and local leaders help bring new foot traffic to their downtowns? 960 540 DMR Architects

(Excerpt)

We assembled a panel of industry experts to tackle this month’s question.

Here’s what they had to say.

Francis Reiner, senior urban designer, DMR Architects (Hasbrouck Heights)

There are a number of important aspects municipalities will need to consider moving forward. The design of public sidewalks, parks, plazas and other gathering spaces will be a critical component to meet the increasing needs of residents in downtowns under the ‘new normal.’

We anticipate the continued expansion of outdoor dining, both along the street and within larger parks and plazas. The design of the street and building setbacks along with smaller pocket parks and plazas at specific nodes within a downtown will be critical to support restaurants and outdoor dining similar to the Atlantic Street Park in Hackensack that was completed in 2015.

Municipalities should consider opportunities to temporarily convert on-street or ancillary parking, as well as street and alleyway closures on weekends and at night and building temporary pocket parks and parklets that support these types of function while allowing safe movement of pedestrians within a downtown.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RE-NJ

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.”

Video Release Celebrates Building 3 Opening at The Grande at Metro Park

Video Release Celebrates Building 3 Opening at The Grande at Metro Park 789 444 DMR Architects
Tonight DMR will join the Township of Woodbridge and developers and residents of The Grande at Metro Park to celebrate the ribbon cutting of Building 3, the third of four buildings at the residential development which will ultimately be a 355-unit rental community. Today we are also celebrating the building’s opening with a video release highlighting a key feature of the development, its expansive amenity package.

Hackensack Mellone – Mariniello Recreation Center Opens

Hackensack Mellone – Mariniello Recreation Center Opens 789 444 DMR Architects

Today marks the first day of programs at the Mellone – Mariniello (M&M) Recreation Center in Hackensack, giving residents access to a recent redesign and expansion that addresses the community’s need for current athletic, meeting and activity space.

The project took an existing 8,000 square foot building and renovated and expanded the facility into a 22,000 square foot facility that now includes an expanded 400-seat basketball arena, a new senior center, a new lobby and three multipurpose rooms.

“DMR’s plans will allow us to host more athletic team practices and games, offer parents an after-school program for their elementary and middle school-aged kids, and give retired seniors a better location for classes and activities,” Mayor John Labrosse said.

“The 21st century community center is a destination where people can often spend several hours meeting with friends, learning new skills, and enjoying team sports all in one place,” Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO, said. “Places like Hackensack are rethinking their current recreation spaces, not just for its residents’ needs now, but with flexibility to continue to meet these needs over the next generation of users.”

The facility also offers community meeting and classroom spaces, new restroom facilities, a snack bar, storage area, and an office for the center’s administration.

DMR-designed Grande at Metropark Welcomes First Residents

DMR-designed Grande at Metropark Welcomes First Residents 789 444 DMR Architects

Residents have starting moving into the first phase of the 355-unit, DMR-designed The Grande at Metropark, and when completed, its units will bring the firm’s portfolio to 3,000 rental and condo units in more than 20 communities in New Jersey.

Developer SAMTD Acquisitions Woodbridge Urban Renewal LLC retained DMR in 2016 for the four-building community of one- and two-bedroom units and two-story loft-style units with mezzanines.  The plans also include 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

“Woodbridge’s position at the nexus of great shopping, major automotive arteries and public transportation makes it a very appealing place to live, with the number of people wanting to live there outpacing the residential housing options,” Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Partner and Director of Design, said. “The Grande at Metropark expands the number of homes to choose from while offering a modern luxury rental option that was not previously available in this market.”

DMR’s design incorporated luxury amenities including a club room and movie theater for all buildings to use, family dining rooms with warming kitchenettes for party rentals, and fitness centers in each building.  Outdoor spaces throughout the property include a pool, gazebos and outdoor seating areas, as well as a roof top terrace with landscaping, barbeque grills and fire pits.  Pet-friendly options include a dog run and dog washing stations at each of the buildings.

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.