With approval of the requested downsizing, one of the developers of a proposed 23-unit apartment building on Ridgedale and Lafayette avenues said the project would begin within a year.
The project, first approved in 2008, was again approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday night , as the developers sought to reduce its size–from 40,000 to 29,000 square feet.
"We should be building within 12 months," said David O'Connell, a principal with Morristown Gateway LLC.
Martin Newmark, the attorney representing Morristown Gateway, elaborated, "He will build it. He can't afford to carry it any longer."
The project, originally called Ridgedale Commons, was to be a condominium property. But, given economic conditions over the last couple years, Newmark said the developers had decided to go with a smaller footprint.
A number of conditions were included in Wednesday's approval, including working with town professionals to provide an adequate replacement for the recreational space previously included on the roof, which was lost in the project's downsizing.
Zoning Board member Michael Leavy noted, while there is now additional green space all around the building–which will contain 19 two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units (19 at market rate, four designated for affordable housing)–a specific area should still be established to allow tenants recreation opportunities outside of their apartments.
"There are no pocket parks in that part of town," board member Cary Lloyd said. "They need a place to go."
Several neighboring residents came out to the meeting to express several concerns, primarily to do with the potential additional traffic the project will bring. "I feel gridlock will happen a lot more there then it does already," said Ridgedale Avenue resident John Kelly.
Given the project was already approved four years ago, however, board member Linda Carrington reiterated that there was very little, if anything, the current board could do to address such concerns.
"It's not a flawless project," said board chairman Lawrence Cohen. "It's a tough corner. But, overall, given some other proposals for projects, it's reasonable."
At the conclusion of the hearing, Newmark said Morristown Gateway was "a project aching to be built.
"This is going to be the most attractive structure in that area," he said.