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'Ridgewood Station' Concept Unveiled at Ken Smith Site [Photos]

Planning board members were impressed with a European-inspired, 114-unit luxury apartment concept that would transform Franklin Avenue. What do you think?

Drawing inspiration from some of Europe's most enduring buildings, a developer envisions a "landmark" luxury apartment complex replacing the Ken Smith Ford dealership, all in a transit village setting.

If constructed, "Ridgewood Station" on Franklin Avenue would offer 114 luxury apartments complete with 7,250 sq. ft. of retail space wrapping around Chestnut Street. At four stories and set beside the rail line, the property would hold a total of 166 parking spaces, 22 for retail. Proposed are 12 studios, 63 one-bedroom units, 37 two-bed apartments, and 2 three-bedroom dwellings.

The conceptual plan was unveiled Wednesday night in front of the planning board, which has been working to create a special zone to accommodate three other large downtown housing project proposals.

Ridgewood Station developer Dinallo Construction Corp. is asking the village to create a transit village zone, essentially an overlay zone to encompass select areas near the train station.

"We will have a full review on traffic, planning and density," attorney Charles Sarlo said. "Tonight I just wanted to present our vision."

The vision could be a game-changer; the site is one of the most visible in town and in many ways, at the entrance to the downtown.

Blending elements of prominent village buildings – like the Wilsey Building – and famous plazas in Italy and France, Ridgewood Station would be designed almost in an "L" shape on the 2-acre property to create a sense of "enclosure" from Franklin Avenue to East Ridgewood Avenue along Broad Street.

"I broke out the facades to make it look like two separate buildings," said architect Dean Marchetto. The material would be constructed out of brick, stone and stucco in a "Mission" style, with a cupola rising 70 feet to create depth and architectural pizazz.

Steps from the train station, amenities of the building would include a walking track, a fitness center, rooftop greenspace and outdoor seating areas. Parking would ground level with no visibility from the street, Marchetto said.

Planning board members were impressed by the aesthetics of the project, displayed using interactive 3-D modeling architectural software.

"I'm overwhelmed," said member Nancy Bigos. "It's taken us to the next generation of the Village of Ridgewood and I absolutely think it's beautiful...I anticipate hearing a whole lot more as we move forward."

Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli said the project could "bring some life" to Franklin Avenue while potentially even spurring the "beginning of a renaissance on Chestnut Street," currently replete with auto repair yards.

A planner will flesh out some more details of the project on Jan. 15, when the planning board meets next.

Ridgewood Mom January 09, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Let's add estimates of increased business tax revenue via possible increased business in the CBD to the list of needed information.
Ridgewood Mom January 09, 2013 at 01:53 PM
In response to Chris, I'll add that Ridgewood may have some "transient" families but it is also a place where many families remain and return to raise their children, grandchildren, etc. How much so? I suppose it depends on where you compare it to and how much is right for you. For me, Ridgewood has a great balance of rooted community life and a steady flow of newcomers who add to the mix and make things more cosmopolitan. It is warm but not excessively provincial. Personally, I would not like to see the current level of "transience" systemically increased.
Willard January 09, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I really think all new development in the CBD should be condominiums and not rentals. The downtown is average at best these days with one restaurant opening and another one closing, rinse, repeat. If we have people living full time in the downtown core it will keep it from becoming stagnant. A vibrant (yes that means busy) downtown will help our real estate values, not hurt them. Let's get a few hundred condos downtown and give them the full Ridgewood property tax treatment. Condos will add very few students to the district where rentals are anyones guess. As for traffic concerns, if you don't want traffic you really shouldn't be living 18 miles from the George Washington bridge.
Just Watching January 09, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Yes, Condos would be best for the existing three older applications. (or at least Brogan and Chestnut) Ken Smith would be best as a hotel (no children for the school system) with multi-deck commuter parking in the rear.
JT January 09, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Why do people assume that condos will add few students. There are many people who prefer condo-life to owning a house with all it's maintenance. If we really want no more children, why not make the condos 55+ residences? There's got to be a better way to make the downtown vibrant other than adding "a few hundred condos". Westwood is staying alive without all the development.
DF January 10, 2013 at 03:59 AM
The thought of simply beautifying an open area with a park setting is impossible?Concrete and money are more important.
Gary Rabinowitz January 10, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Reject this Ridgewood. And reject all the other hocus pocus, buzz word-laden ("mixed use") RE developments put before you. High density housing is not, nor should it be, your thing. As to whether or not condos will add kids, and is so, how many kids, look at how many live in comparable high density developments like the Prospect St/Durar Ave units, or Glen Rock's Harristown / Pamrapo units. No need for idle speculation, just facts. As for the arguments (lies) developers make, well, all I can say is have a healthy degree of skepticism. Good luck keeping intact the desirable character of your town. GXR
Matt Allen January 10, 2013 at 07:43 PM
I would like to point out that the term 'luxury apartments' is a misnomer. The concept of 'luxury apartments' applies only in two situations. One is in poor towns like Jersey City, Newark and Patterson. These towns build luxury apartments to attract richer and better educated residents in hopes of increasing the tax base and cutting down crime. The second is in areas like Manhattan that attract a lot of young people and rich people who would like to stay close to work and entertainment. Ridgewood is the last place for 'luxury apartments.' This is a family town and there is nothing of interest for young and single people. It is a long commute from Manhattan and no one is going to pay up for the commute. Finally, the town itself is very rich and has very low crime rates. So the concept of gentrification does not apply. These apartments will only attract lower income people who cannot otherwise afford homes in the village. Nothing wrong with that but let us be clear - they will add more in terms of cost than revenue. There is no revenue upside for existing village residents from this. Only for the developers, and I suspect the council members.
sean mccooe January 10, 2013 at 10:05 PM
We like but the addition of cars without another/newer tunnel will be tough on all . Try turning onto Franklin off Chestnut after 4pm .. zoiks !
resident January 11, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Mayor Paul Aronsohn and Deputy Mayor Al Pucciarelli are trying to change the zoning in the downtown area. The planning board has been discussing rezoning the downtown since October. There are several multi housing complexes before the board. There is a big push to vote on changing zoning in the downtown unless they see some opposition from the residents. allowing multifamily residential buildings, raising allowed height to 60 feet (now it is 45ft, 50ft if you have affordable housing units), reducing the number of parking spaces per unit (trying to say the people who live downtown will be commuters and won't need 1 car per adult), they will walk everywhere! The planning board, led by Paul and Al will push all of this through if there is no opposition. they are on a mission to allow everything and make us the City of Ridgewood instead of the Village of Ridgewood. Please make the effort to come to the January meetings-Jan 23rd. 7:30 fourth floor of the municipal building. This is the future of your town. Be a part of it! At the 11/14 meeting, the planning Board had a traffic consultant come in with a report. He said Ridgewood is so busy that it could not handle 1 more car in the downtown area if nothing else changes. lights could be changed to help, but in general, the consultant was painting a tough picture for the traffic situation. Al's comment was "If the traffic sky is falling, we shouldn't use this as a moratorium on future development
Dan Johnson January 11, 2013 at 02:11 AM
The world changes. Change is constant. Accept it or not it happens. I remember Ridgewood when it was more than banks, restaurants, jewelry stores and nail saloons. Once there was a fish store, a meat store, a vegetable store, a men's shop and other stores you had in a real down town. No any more, Ridgewood changed. Now it is going to change again no matter what you think or want. Change happens. But this change could save the dying downtown. Yes, the downtown is in danger of tipping. Of dying. Change to save it. There is no status quo. All we can do. All we should do help shape that change to make it for the better. Accept change. Work to make it the right change. Don't put your head in the sand. Don't display your prejudices and try to justify them as what is best for the village. Change happens. Help make it change for the better with constructive ideas not destructive bullshit.
Steve January 11, 2013 at 03:11 AM
I was waiting for someone else to mention how crazy it would be to live next to those train tracks. But, then I thought about the condos that were built in the town of Garfield on Midland Ave. (across the street from GoodFellas restaurant). They are literally 20 feet from the NJ Transit tracks...and people snapped up those condos. I guess there's a market for anything.
Pete McKenna January 11, 2013 at 03:14 AM
I think the downtown situation is far more complicated than the planning board's enthusiasm for these proposals implies. One aspect that no one is speaking about is the affordable housing issue. While Gov. Christie abolished the COAH, the historic affordable housing deficit that Ridgewood has kicked down the road remains outstanding. Our stated defense for not being able to build affordable units was that the Village was fully developed. How does that defense stand up when we allow new mixed use properties to be developed on Chestnut, Broad, Maple and Franklin as well as a doubling in size of Valley Hospital? I think that open-ended liability to construct between 60 and 80 housing units may come due and payable with these approvals before we even consider their future impact on the Village and affordable housing requirements.
Steve January 11, 2013 at 03:18 AM
What is a "nail saloon"? A place where you can drink while you get a mani/pedi?? I like that idea!
Brian January 11, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Right on target. Some roads become one way, you make sure there are 200+ parking spots not 140. But it is a good thing for the town to bring in a few hundred more people with disposable income who live downtown and will patronize businesses and perhaps even lower the average age in town.
Paul January 11, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Wow! megan Smith, And everyone on this Patch reply are right! But megan I don't think that it is their palms getting greased, Wink! Wink!$$$$ Please Go to the next Village of Ridgewood Town Council meeting in Jan 2013 and speak out. Some things are just the right things to do for this Village.
Paul January 11, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Wow, megan Smith, And everyone on this Patch reply are right! But megan I don't think that it is their palms that are getting greased Wink! Wink! $$$ Go to the next Town Council meeting Jan 2013 and speak out!! It is our Village & our Future.
Matt Allen January 11, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Change need not be accepted for the sake of change. Newark, Trenton and Jersey City also 'changed' from bustling urban centers to crime infested hell holes. Towns like Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes have 'changed' over the last 20-30 years from farming communities into suburban bedroom communities. The change worked because they improved their socio-economic profile. Ridgewood is already there. We do not need to destroy what we have and build a mini-urban hellhole for the sake of 'change.' We already have a downtown bigger than required for a town this size. Downtowns outside of large cities are not wildly successful anyway. The solution is not to jam the downtown area with rent-by-the-week shacks. We are a very rich vilage with high property values and high property tax rates. The fact that we are still apparently always short on revenue is more a sign of immense fiscal mismanagement rather than lack of funds.
Bill Connor January 11, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Why over and over Do residents with Good Strong Opinions and comments about our Towns future and critical issue Use Email names like Resident, John etc.Come out into the Light..Seems Ironic that a Code name is used when Opinions are so detailed and likely from a very Active member of the Community.Thank you.
Matt Allen January 11, 2013 at 04:31 PM
There are many other towns HUD will have to fry (starting with those in Westchester) before it gets to Ridgewood. I think we can wait.
Gary Rabinowitz January 11, 2013 at 06:37 PM
???...stranger than fiction, this comment. Whatever is in that wine glass in your profile photo must be pretty darn potent!!! GXR
Mikka H January 11, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Holy crap dan, have another glass of wine.....
sean mccooe January 11, 2013 at 08:52 PM
BRAND OUR VILLAGE? http://www.good.is/posts/the-power-of-a-brand-to-transform-a-city
Ridgewood Mom January 11, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Change can be good. Change can be bad. Sometimes we should embrace change in the name of progress. Sometimes we should reject change in the name of holding on to something good. Attitudinal approaches to change don't work for me. What matters is whether a particular change is a good one, or not, in a particular situation.
Tom Kossoff January 11, 2013 at 09:49 PM
All these projects are definitely "change" as Dan Johnson says. Change is good if it takes into account what's not working and fixes it. Downtown what is not working is the congestion most of all. Why pile on more instead of "less". Lots of Ridgewood residents would instead like less traffic, perhaps bike lanes, a pedestrian only area, additional parking on the peripheral, not core areas. That is, a vision like NYC Mayor Bloomberg has implemented with public pedestrian spaces, bike lanes and more. Everybody will benefit with change like this including all the local businesses. Think like Mike here and it's very easy to come up with a much better plan for our downtown than plopping these monstrosities in the worse possible trigger points for congestion. The planning board and Village Council will speculate and have traffic studies done and more. They might gamble on these studies but if they are wrong Ridgewood will have not congestive heart failure but "congestion heart failure". I think this risk is not worth taking unless these projects are enormously scaled back or proven otherwise. I think there will be a need for some sort of civic group to represent the sentiments expressed here on The Patch not opposed to change but opposed to ill-advised growth. Let's think like Mayor Mike to a different vision of quality of life and not stifling growth. That's the change I could vote for in Ridgewood. Let's all get together when the time is right in the future.
anonymous January 11, 2013 at 09:59 PM
To all you people who are so anti change, I'm curious how long you've lived in the village. Yes, there were charming things like Perdue's Sporting Goods tucked back behind buildings in its barn, but there were also places like Victor's House of Beauty which was decorated for Christmas 365 days of the year with faded and decaying plastic lawn ornaments stapled to the roof. I think you may be over idealizing Ridgewood.
Cars January 12, 2013 at 09:46 AM
Unrelated to the apartment issue, a Ridgewood only bus system that ran frequently and makes several stops both on the east and west sides would alleviate some of the parking issues and, I believe, would help local businesses. I would certainly go downtown more often to shop and dine if I didn't have to drive and park.
Glenn Rosenblum January 15, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Please contact celebrity access, inc regarding the financial matter that you are well aware of. 818-508-1300
Mark Ruckhaus January 15, 2013 at 11:42 PM
James, I'm in Glen Rock, so I have no dog in this fight. For Ridgewood's sake, I hope the town council and the zoning board don't get all starry-eyed with visions of ratables and take what the developers say as gospel. The developers are ALWAYS going to give the best case scenario and then maybe exaggerate some more. After all, they're not only developers, they're also salesmen. How can you tell when a salesman is lying? He opens his mouth. Though the Village has to do their own due diligence, I fear, like most political entities, they'll be more interested in legacies and kickbacks (hey, like no politician ever got a kickback!), and that'll either cloud their judgment or they just won't do that due diligence. So, when these projects don't come off as advertised (and we know that advertising is mostly BS), who's going to be left holding the bag for the possibility of increased infrastructure (like maybe a new school)? And, more importantly, who can be held accountable (monetarily would be wonderful) when the starry-eyed projections and promises don't come close to actuality?
Mark Ruckhaus January 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Come on over to Glen Rock, Megan. We could use the business. Greased palms? Whatever are you talking about? :-)

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