'Enclave' Project Scaled Back

Developer's expert witness projects six school-age kids, says the revised design is less "drastic."

Developers have scaled back a proposal to remake the Sealfons tract with 52 upscale apartment units and 28,000 square feet of retail, stretching along three fronts of the Ridgewood downtown.

Appearing before the planning board on Jan. 7, John Saraceno's project is included as part of the board's decision to amend the Master Plan, likely creating an overlay zone(s) in the downtown. The board's study also incorporates three other developments – Ridgewood Station, Chestnut Village and The Dayton.

Like the other new development proposals, primary issues include the possible impact of children on the school system, increases in traffic, questions of density and the amount of parking offered.

Running along Maple Avenue from Franklin to East Ridgewood at 49.5 feet, applicant planner Joseph Burgis said they project a total of six public school children living in the development. Total occupancy is projected at 105 residents.

"Projects of this type do not generate a lot of public school attendees," Burgis said, citing studies from the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy. "The numbers seem to be consistent across the board whether we look at that here in Ridgewood or in Summit...and a number of other sites."

Plans would see a partial demolition of the hodge podge of properties running along Maple Ave. The Sealfons building itself – what previously housed Pompanoosuc Mills and the Rugged Bear – would remain. The adjacent building, currently housing Hallmark Flooring, would be removed and new apartments erected in its place.

"The dimension change was too drastic," Burgis said of the original design. "It was too big on Maple Ave. so we stepped the building back [and] it's now four stories on Maple. They're both 4-story structures."

Burgis testified that the proposal complemented the Master Plan objectives by offering multi-family housing. To boot, the residents might spend as much as $350,000 annually in Ridgewood, he added.

Parking is likely to be an issue that continues throughout the hearings. The current use holds 76 spots, although ordinance requires 182. What's proposed doesn't address the shortfall entirely.

Burgis said a total of 133 spots would be offered up, 56 for residents of the Enclave.

Vehicular traffic along the three frontages is among the worst in Ridgewood. It remains to be seen how a proposal of the scale will impact transit times. Entrances/exits would be along both Maple Avenue and Franklin Avenue. Because both are county roads, the county will also need to sign off on the development.

Burgis testified that nearly 20 percent of Ridgewood residents commute via public transportation, pointing out that the development is 2,000 feet from the train station and 1,300 feet from the bus stop. That should limit traffic, he said.

Density of the building is currently slated at 132 percent in floor-to-area ratio (FAR). It remains above the level stated in the ordinance but is below some neighboring properties, Burgis told the board.

In a perfect world, the one-story Brake-O-Rama on Franklin and Maple would have been included in the development for uniformity's sake, Saraceno, the developer, said. But the owner refused to sell.

"Today he operates a business, in the future he's probably a landlord."

The planning board could vote on amending the Master Plan in as little as a month. Should overlay zones be created, an ordinance would kick up to the council for consideration. If the council says yes, the developments would need to return to the planning board for site plan approval.

maureen January 21, 2013 at 05:34 PM
This will be a disaster. You have kids crossing the street here all the time , you have a funky corner intersection on Maple and Franklin Ave where no one knows who has the right of way, driveway entrances to Medical complexes and Learning centers (Kumon, Honors Review ), multiple lights in succession with a" no-man's lane " in between and you want to add another couple of driveway exits/entrances to an apartment complex across from another apartment complex to this chaotic mess ???!! Who in their right mind thinks this is a good idea ? The only housing development that seems feasible and not obnoxious is the one by the YMCA . At least that spot is not in the traffic fray.
Matt January 21, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Maureen makes a good point, but really the issue should be with fixing the damn intersection whether this complex is built. In fact, maybe approval of this development should include the redesign of this intersection.
Matt January 21, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Maybe we should worry less about a few extra kids entering the school system and more about how our local government is squandering our taxes.
Brian January 21, 2013 at 10:19 PM
As someone pointed on the thread about the other building, the answer re # of children is pretty easy to figure out. Get a school phone book and see how many kids are listed at the buildings on Ridgewood Ave, in the Heights by the train, on Maple by Spring and the large building over by Kings. There are about 6-8 addresses to check. See how many kids live in those buildings. It is a VERY important question but easy to answer. My kids are not in school yet so I dont have a phone book to use to check. Hence my begging for someone else to do it. There is no reason to suppose that a significantly more or less children will move into these complexes. Lets get a real number to work from instead of the developers or our own feelings.
Slow Down January 22, 2013 at 04:13 AM
This article should have been titled "ENCLAVE STILL MASSIVE!" Contrary to the Patch, the entire Sealfons building will NOT remain in tact or that the new building will replace a "hodge podge" of buildings. The old Rugged Bear section of The Sealfons building (currently the dance studio) will be razed and replaced with a much taller structure. The floor-to-area ratio may have been reduced to137%, but this is not only "above the level stated in the ordinance" as characterized by the Patch, but is actually more than THREE TIMES the ordinance limit of 45%! The most recent plan only reduces the number of units by 5, it is now 52 and used to be 57. The new plan still calls for thee building to be 49.5 feet tall requiring a variance. Then new plan calls for 36 two-bedroom apartments and at least one three-bedroom apartment. This was not reported by the Patch, but these numbers distinguish this project from the Ken Smith project and are critical to evaluating the truth of the claim that the Enclave will attract only 6 school age children. The developer says that since 20% of Ridgewood residents commute to work by bus or train, there will be somehow not be a troubling increase in traffic. What about the other 80%? And just because someone commutes to NYC by train does not mean that they don't also own a car that they use evenings and weekends. So much for 56 parking spots accommodating the cars for 52 apartments. Patch, please "report", not just repeat.


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