Mayor Talks Parking Around CentroVerde Development

He says: "We have to get over our culture's obsession with having parking exactly where you want to go."


A parking consultant hired by those who would like to develop CentroVerde, a complex of three six-story buildings to be built in Montclair's Central Business District, sought to reassure the municipal Planning Board on Tuesday night that the proposed development would have more than enough parking, according to the Montclair Times.

The newspaper said that Tom Calu, the interim executive director of the Montclair Parking Authority, spoke on behalf of Montclair Acquisition Partners (MAP), the company seeking to build the massive project on a 3.3-acre lot where there are now vacant Bloomfield Avenue car dealerships, between Valley and Orange roads.

Calu had been retained by MAP, composed of the Montclair-based Pinnacle Companies that developed The Siena and DCH Auto Group, to lay out a plan for how shared parking would work within the Orange Road Parking Deck, which will serve CentroVerde.

When asked about the presentation at Tuesday night's meeting, Mayor Jerry Fried said that the shared-parking arrangement, "zip cars", and mixed uses for the site would maximize the parking capacity throughout the week.

Also, he added, the 78 "township spots" which are now part of the original land-lease for the deck give plenty of wiggle room, since now only 30 to 40 cars use the deck and only during normal business hours at the Board of Education and the Montclair Community Pre-K.

"The only concern is for the very few times during the year when there is peak demand because of special events, and I am convinced that you should never build enough parking to have spots exactly when and where people would like to have them," Fried said.

He said one thing not mentioned Tuesday night is that the Crescent Deck has only reached full capacity three or four times during the years it has been in operation, and only for an hour or so.

"We spent literally months 3 1/2 years ago trying to plan for parking issues that would be created by the Wellmont, including arranging a parking contract with the owners of the DCH site for Wellmont parking," Fried said. "It was totally unnecessary ... the 'free market' (mostly Stephen Plofker selling his parking spaces at a premium price) worked, and those looking for a bargain parked in legal spots a few blocks away.

"We have to get over our culture's obsession with having parking exactly where you want to go," he added. "Every place you really want to go (like places you go on vacation) is a place where it's nice to walk from where you leave your car, or where you can use public transportation."

For more information on the project and the parking issues go here.

thewayitis May 31, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Mayor Fried's remark feels out of touch. It is reasonable for residents and visitors to want to park near where they're going. The mayor assumes everyone is capable of walking. Some people have physical limitations or disabilities. Accessible parking spots are often filled. Pregnant women might have difficulty walking longer distances (again depending on their individual abilities). Parents of young children often prefer to park closer to where they need to go. Elderly people as well. I've learned to allow 15 mins extra to have time to park wherever I go in town. From the 4th ward its necessary to drive to get to the town centers. I wish the town would consider the already existing lack of parking. Any new development should be considered thoughtfully and creating sufficient parking should be part of that equation. Biking is not an option for some people for a variety of reasons. I wish the town would think about the existing infrastructure and current demands being placed on it. Please listen to what residents are saying about their experiences and make things better. I believe its possible to have a greener environmentally aware place with bike paths, bike racks, pedestrian walkways, etc. AND it's also a place where people need to drive their cars and park them safely and legally. To support local businesses, there needs to be sufficient parking. Otherwise, people will make the choice to go elsewhere for services where parking is less of a hassle.
Townie May 31, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I'll stick to my statement that parking downtown is not such a hassle, for me. I'll also agree with CMFAS55's comment that quick errands can be easier elsewhere than downtown, with montclairgurl that Tom Calu should probably not be in-line to run the MPA and with thewayitis that persons with disabilities face great difficulties with access. I'll further add that more development = more cars and that this could make a reasonable parking situation less reasonable. It is important that new development have a reasonable allocation of on-site parking, guided by township ordinances. Plus within a short distance of this proposed development are parking lots with daytime use only (Hillside School, the new offices across from Hillside School in the renovated church, Whole Foods). There are online businesses popping up to facilitate sharing these types of spots: http://www.parkatmyhouse.com, http://www.parkingspots.com
Peter Simon May 31, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Whatever, DZ. CMFAS55 makes a distinction between places where you're doing an "errand" and places such as restaurants where you're likely to stay for awhile. That's a meaningful distinction, and it suggests that downtowns such as Montclair's Bloomfield-Ave corridor are perhaps best filled with tenants that are 'destinations' of one sort or another (restaurants, theaters, galleries, coffeeshops, antique shops, bookshops, bars, live-music venues, etc.) rather than with traditional retail tenants, who must compete with big-box, shopping-mall, and online alternatives. The 'problem' with parking isn't felt to be a big problem when, as CMFAS55 says, you've decided to go to a restaurant (or a show, or a reading, or for some antiquing / gallery-hopping, or to hear a band). It's (arguably) a problem when you need a gallon of milk, some shampoo, and disposable diapers for the kids.
CMFAS55 June 01, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Peter said: "it suggests that downtowns ... are perhaps best filled with tenants that are 'destinations' of one sort or another (restaurants, theaters, galleries, coffeeshops, antique shops, bookshops, bars, live-music venues, etc.) rather than with traditional retail tenants" That sounds good except for the liklihood that an economic downturn will hurt this type of destination where people are spending discretionary income on leisure activities more severely than it will a downtown that has more recession proof businesses. I think that our downtown needs more office space rather than restaurants and the powers that be need to figure out how to bring in businesses with white collar workers to town. Having strong non-retail, non-leisure time business would be nice but parking for the employees is important. Restaurants come and go too frequently and have trouble with our rents and taxes. If you have strong businesses in downtown, people will head out and support restaurants during the week and residents will support them on the weekends.
frank rubacky June 01, 2012 at 02:27 PM
CMFAS55, You're right, but downtown was like this before and we slowly zoned it out for reasons of property speculation and status. Now we are trying to put some of it back in under the guise of the 'Smart Growth' Trinity - all new redevelopments have to each include retail/office/residential. ( Note: be wary of the term SmartGrowth as it takes the current positive connotation of 'growth and adds 'smart' to double the goody-goody flavor and its tenents beyond reproach. ) MPA and Mr Stolar have been sharing the same parking consultant for years and I see no problem appointing the consultant as the Director of the MPA. I also don't see a problem appointing Mr Stolar to the Board of Adjustment. Actually, I don't see Montclair having any problems. Master Plan? We don't need no Master Plan! Write one if you want, but think SmartGrowth is all we need.


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