Northvale board OKs expansion to ShopRite

BY Christopher Lang, Northern Valley Suburbanite, Published 12:00 a.m. ET Feb. 28, 2013

NORTHVALE — Planning board members approved a development plan on Feb. 20 that calls for expanding the ShopRite approximately 15,000 square feet and constructing a 24,500-square-foot, free-standing building.

The applicant, Northvale Shopping Center Associates, also plans to bring in three restaurants and will add more entrances and exits to the site that is encircled by 254 Livingston St., 221 Pegasus Ave., 209-219 Pegasus Ave., 250A Livingston St. and 252 Livingston St. The plan also includes an additional 590 parking spots.

Attorney David Watkins, who represented the applicant, said that the prospective new businesses “aren’t known yet,” as they are “negotiating now with three or four national chains.”

The development project encompasses the Tect/Danzig site, which was deemed environmentally hazardous in the 1990s. The building housed a factory that created chlorinated cleaning chemicals. Drums containing volatile organic compounds were buried on the site in the 1960s. Northvale took over the property in 1999 and since then removed hundreds of underground storage tanks and buried drums.

The development of the site is part of the municipal government’s overall plan for that area, which also includes the Deluxe Dry Cleaners property, also contaminated, but going through the remediation process.

The proposal did require several variances, such as a smaller green area, and variances for sign heights and yard setbacks, which were approved.

With the addition of entrance ways to the property, officials don’t believe traffic will be a concern, but they will monitor the flow and contact the county should problems surface. “It’s a homerun for the town,” said Northvale Mayor Paul Bazela on Friday.

“Hopefully we can get it moving forward. … I hope this increases the flow of business for the shops.”

While the planning board gave its OK to the plans, the state Department of Environmental Protection still needs to sign-off on the deal.

Both Watkins and Bazela said they expect word from the DEP in the next couple of months, hopefully in April.

The DEP is involved since part of the project, the portion of the 24,500-square-foot, free-standing building, is slated for the Tect/Danzig property.

“We’re still waiting on the DEP’s OK,” Bazela said. “There is a report that has to be completed, supposedly done by April.”

If the DEP approves the project in April, Watkins said construction could start as early as May.

The report was supposed to come out earlier, but the DEP’s priorities shifted because of the damage Hurricane Sandy caused in New Jersey.

“When we had our meeting with the DEP in Trenton, they said they needed about two months. They are back logged with Hurricane Sandy projects at the [Jersey] shore and places like Little Ferry,” Bazela said.

The property owners and Inserra Supermarkets, Inc., the parent company of ShopRite, will also enhance the property with a streetscape project. They will install sidewalks and lighting along the Livingston Street side of the property, adding to the character of the downtown.

“It’s been a long process” said Councilman Roy Sokoloski, liaison to the planning board. “I think we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor here.”

The municipal government took control of the site after the previous property owners failed to pay their taxes.

Despite the lengthy process, “It is working out exactly the way we hoped,” Sokoloski said. “The redevelopment on Livingston Street is only a positive,” he said. “It will certainly help.” Bazela said he hopes this project, and the emergence of the Chamber of Commerce will help attract more businesses to Northvale.

“We are trying to build up our corporate end,” said Bazela. “The pieces are starting to click in Northvale.”