PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany-Troy Hills Planning Board approved the PARQ proposal on Monday, October 5. The vote was 5-2. Ms. Judy Hernandez and Mr. Dominic Mele voted against the project.
The plan is for an upscale mixed-use development encompassing 75 high-end townhomes, 525 luxury apartments, 16,000 square feet of experiential retail, invigorating green spaces, and state of the art facilities to be known as PARQ Parsippany.
It will also include athletic fields and recreational facilities that will be integrated into the community for public events, sports programs, and open to Township residents.
PARQ Parsippany will usher in a new era of Lanidex Plaza, a suburban office complex built in the mid-1970s to early 1980s set on 45 acres with 450,000 square feet of commercial office space.
The transformation from Lanidex Plaza to PARQ Parsippany will meet the demand of the ever-changing needs of lifestyle for the next generation while reacclimating the property back into the fiber within Parsippany’s community.
The proposal includes 525 apartments located in Buildings 1 and 2 and 75 three-bedroom Townhomes. In addition Building 1 will contain approximately 2,600 square feet of retail (orange area) and Building 2 will contain approximately 8,140 square feet of retail (orange area).
The Owners’ have carefully considered and listened to the Township to develop a vision that will reenergize the property and seamlessly integrate it with the design and planning to transcend expectations and complement the community.
The transformation of the property will commence with Phase I and II with anticipated completion in 2025. The development plan was crafted to accommodate the existing tenants in the complex.
The residential component will include luxury apartments with elegant hotel-style lobby, club suite, co-working alcoves, private event rooms, state-of-the-art fitness centers, resort-style pools with BBQ and lounge areas, and townhomes which will feature contemporary farmhouse style architecture with a private clubhouse, outdoor pool, and highly amenitized indoor and outdoor spaces.
Phase I includes the development of the 75 Townhomes. It is estimated that phase will take sixteen months to complete. Phase II includes Building 1, expected to take twenty months to complete. Phase III (Building 2) will start construction approximately twelve months after the completion of Phase II and will take approximately twenty months to complete.
This complex is being developed without any (Payment in lieu of Taxes) PILOT programs.
Editors Note: This project is also part of Parsippany’s COAH obligations which is currently in review at the Courts.
Click here to view the Planning Board Meeting of Monday, October 5.
During the meeting, resident Daniela Valenzano stated her concerns about bussing and overcrowding. She stated, “We are already at $3 million in bussing. All of my children went to Eastlake, Brooklawn, and Parsippany Hills. They were overcrowded then. They are overcrowded now.” The students would tentatively attend Eastlake School, Brooklawn Middle School, and Parsippany Hills High School. The complex is less than two miles from Eastlake School and approximately 2.3 miles to Brooklawn Middle School and 2.5 miles to Parsippany Hills High School.
Attorney Joseph O’Neil stated “The law provides that the school board is only responsible to bus children two miles or beyond. However, we have committed to providing for busing. It’s a school board’s discretion. It’s completely up to the school board. That’s the offer. And that stands out.” The applicant offered to provide “subscription bussing.”
Member Dominic Mele questioned “Mr. O’Neill regarding the main entrance off the road, it’s currently a private road, is it not? What is the intention of the applicant? The applicant would have to be responsible for snow removal is not correct.” Mr.O’Neill responded, “There’s a series of laws governing that and we will comply with that.”
Valenzano then stated “Because it’s going to deplete the resources and kill the taxpayers. So we’re either going to have to build new schools because you’re grossly underestimating the number of children that are coming into this development. You’re grossly underestimating the traffic; There are no air reports. I’m not even gonna get into that. We didn’t discuss it, but these buildings are got higher over COVID. They didn’t get smaller. They got higher. You try to squeeze in into two extra two bedrooms. Thank God the board shot that down. A lot of decisions were made without taking into consideration. The taxpayers are going to bore the brunt of this. We’re all sitting here on hold, waiting for answers. We’re taxed to death in this town. Our water and sewer bill is going up 39%. You’re telling us you have enough water at the last meeting. No one got to speak on that. Not one person here believes we have enough water for all of these projects you guys are doing. We’re going to be paying through the nose. I think we deserve an answer. That’s why we’re here for the third time. Just tell us what it’s going to cost.”
Board Attorney Scott Carlson said Truthfully the ability of these kids to access the school is really outside the (Planning) board’s jurisdiction tonight. What is within the borders? Jurisdiction is accessing on and off the site. And the applicant has provided testimony to that effect, whether or not that’s sufficient or insufficient. I leave that to the board. I’m not a deciding member. You know, air quality, these are the issues. These issues were decided long ago by the township council.”
During the public comment section resident, Iva Pohner said “As soon as the redevelopment plans became public, I have studied the plans and I’m shocked by an apparent disregard for health and well-being, the current and future residents of this community. My views are based on facts and studies but also based on common sense and deeply rooted fear for my health and the health of my family. Our small development is sandwiched between routes 287, 80, and very busy Parsippany Road. The traffic volume has steadily increased in one’s quiet and healthy space is now one of the most polluted places in the metropolitan areas. We all know that the interchange between 287 and 80 is bumper to bumper parking every morning and afternoon when people go to and from work. And it is also a major truck route. I’ve monitored air pollution on daily basis in the spring using a readily available iPhone app. And the pollution was the same as the busy streets of Manhattan… I think we should be looking to improve the situation for current residents and not subject future residents to this. The proposal was presented as modern and inspired. What is modern or inspired about the location of a playground and sports fields or apartment building right next to route 287 and 80, who will send their kids to play there?”
Former Mayor James Barberio said “This project will be a traffic nightmare for our residents, particularly residents in Lake Parsippany who know all too well that so many roads cannot handle the additional traffic caused by over 600 new housing units. The associated and the height of the project. My administration was presented with very similar proposals. We studied it and determined that the impacts on our town particularly traffic impacts just were enormously bad. I rejected proposals like this when I was Mayor because I knew then what I still know now, this project will ruin the quality of life for our Lake Parsippany community. My traffic experts concluded that this extra traffic would create unsafe conditions on Parsippany Road for residents needing to get into onto Parsippany Road from Lake Parsippany. I’ve listened to the testimony, and I didn’t hear any analysis to address that point, except that onsite. You can only vote with regards to onsite traffic, but basically, the onsite traffic is going to create a hazard for the off-site traffic.” He continued to say “I know the whole thing with the affordable housing, I’ve dealt with it, but I’ve had people sit there when I was Mayor, maybe one or two on the board, tried to beat me up with the Whole Foods, but you never got an affordable housing on it. Not one ounce of affordable housing on it. The bottom line is this. It’s unsafe. This will make proximity roads unsafe. I know the board members have a very, very tough decision to make, and I know your hands are tied. I know the COAH rules and fair share housing. I know all that. And my heart goes out to you because of whatever decision you make, it’s not going to be easy. Thank you for your time.”
“I’ve been concerned about this project from the start when over 2,000 units of housing were proposed for this complex,” Mayor Michael Soriano said. “While we were able to knock the unit count down by nearly three-quarters, I remain concerned about the strain this development will put on Parsippany Road and municipal services. Unfortunately, we are in a position where the courts are partially dictating development in Parsippany.”
In the closing statement, Joseph O’Neill said Thank you, Mr. Chairman, just thought I’ll thank the board for its time over these last three nights, I’ll remind you that we are here for a fully compliant application with the requirements that were adopted as part of the affordable housing plan adopted by the council. That was subject to years of discussion, both under the Barberio Administration and the current administration as to what that plan was going to look like. And at the ultimate adoption of that plan, Lanidex was included in that plan. An ordinance and overlay ordinance was adopted, and we comply fully with the requirements of that ordinance. The issues regarding traffic, all these other issues, we’ve addressed these issues as they applied to this application. If there are other issues that need to be handled in redevelopment, we can talk about that. The site was also designated for redevelopment. We should keep it just to what this application is, which is what you see before you, and part an important part of the plan. I know that the town is still in court with the plan. We’ll be attending a hearing on Wednesday. We look forward to reporting that the board approved this project. Thank you very much.”
Before a resolution was formalized, Attorney Joe O’Neill reminded the board “This ordinance was adopted as part of the plan that was adopted by the court. Now, the township hasn’t finalized that plan because of various issues that came up Normally, if you deny an application to fully comply with an ordinance, we just get a prerogative RIT lawsuit. But we would be forced to file a contempt proceeding that the township had violated its settlement agreement with the fair share housing. That would open up the township to additional issues. So it’s two-pronged. It’s really the normal prerogative RIT case you would have if you denied something. And all you’re supposed to be doing is measuring this application against the ordinance. Then the other issue is that ordinance was adopted as part of that plan. You can’t modify the plan in the way Councilman dePierro is suggesting, not at this point. So you would be in violation of that plan. I might be able to alleviate some of the concerns by offering that my client has just instructed. We will remove building 700 from the application. We don’t have to do that. That is beyond the ordinance requirements that were adopted but to facilitate and to address some of the concerns of the board, we’re willing to offer that.”