By Mayor Dr. Joseph P. Scarpelli
It is my honor and privilege on behalf of the Nutley Board of Commissioners (BOC) to present the 2023 Nutley State of the Township Address.
I would like to start by providing an update on three crucial redevelopment projects: the Diamond Springs Pool Club, the former Ciccolini site, and the ON3 development (formerly Roche).
Diamond Springs Pool Club property
After an extended legal dispute over the zoning designation of the Diamond Springs Pool Club property, the BOC reached a settlement with the property owners and passed an Ordinance and Redevelopment Plan on August 16th that sets the zoning requirements for the Evergreen Avenue property. The plan calls for 82 units that will be age-restricted (55 years old and over) and 3 non-age restricted units. The plan addresses the setbacks from the residential neighbors, the architectural and landscape design standards stipulating the building materials and perimeter buffers, the height, the maximum lot coverage, the square footage of the units, and the type and number of amenities.
The BOC are very excited that when completed this plan will result in a luxury, age-restricted residential complex on a property that has been vacant and in disrepair for a number of years.
In November, the BOC passed a redevelopment plan for the Ciccolini property and the contiguous lots along the west side of Franklin Avenue. The goal of this redevelopment plan is to promote the development of a signature project which would create a focal point/gateway into downtown and to also act as a catalyst for future redevelopment opportunities and the revitalization of Franklin Avenue. The plan features the development of a 5,000 square-foot public plaza with active retail space and a restaurant along the ground floor. It also preserves the historic public parking in the area to support both the new and existing retail and restaurant uses, as well as allowing for shared parking for the new residential space on the upper floors.
On December 6, the BOC designated Nutley Town Center Redevelopers, a subsidiary of JMF Properties, as the redeveloper. The designation authorizes the Board to commence negotiating a redevelopment agreement for the Ciccolini project.
The implementation of this plan will create an attractive southern entrance to our downtown that provides open space, a new restaurant with outdoor seating along the new plaza, and a portion of the avenue with new retail that is pedestrian friendly and walkable, while assuring plenty of parking for patrons.
In August, Eisai Pharmaceuticals had their ribbon cutting ceremony at 100 Metro Boulevard, on the ON3 campus. The BOC are thrilled to welcome Eisai and their over 800 employees to Nutley. Eisai’s research, science innovations, and philosophy of human health care put them at the forefront of the biopharmaceutical industry and they are an important, integral addition to the former Hoffmann LaRoche campus.
With Eisai’s relocation to Nutley, all five of the buildings left vacant upon Roche’s departure are now filled.
In addition to Eisai, this site presently boasts other blue-chip occupants including the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, Seton Hall University’s Graduate College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences, Modern Meadow, Hackensack Meridian Health Center of Discovery and Innovation, Quest Diagnostics, y-mAbs Therapeutics, and Ralph Lauren. All of whom distinguish this property as the leading life science innovation hub not only in New Jersey, but the entire metropolitan area.
As we work towards the complete re-development of the entire site, the BOC have prioritized our goals to assure that the campus provides an immediate boost to our local economy, preserves opportunities for additional future ratables, and increases our property values.
The Commissioners are proud that many pieces have fallen into place transforming this once shuttered property into an economic dynamo that will help attain those goals and define our Township for decades.
After a two-year absence due to the COVID pandemic, in September the BOC once again hosted “Welcome to Nutley Day'' in Nichols Park for our ON3 neighbors. Our eateries and businesses lined the pathway of the park offering food and discount promotions. The event provided students and employees an opportunity to get off the ON3 campus, enjoy our beautiful park system, meet and mingle with Nutley businesses, all while demonstrating the proximity of our downtown to the ON3 campus. This event has been well received by the ON3 tenants and served as a successful introduction to our local merchants.
The BOC continues to promote our businesses and downtown. Many of our local businesses struggled during COVID, but happily since the pandemic numerous new businesses have opened. Please see the list of new businesses that have chosen to open in our beautiful town over the last 2-3 years.
The BOC encourages our residents to patronize these new establishments, as well as our longtime businesses, as our local merchants are the lifeblood of our town.
Over the last few years, the Board of Commissioners have worked together to overcome many challenges and issues. We continued to collaborate with the local development community to address the ON3, Ciccolini, and Diamond Springs properties while ensuring the protection against any adverse impacts to our community and residents. We have constantly looked for new ways to promote our local businesses and downtown. Our government functioned continually and provided services to our citizens as we persevered through the COVID pandemic. Even though Tropical Storm Ida damaged our Public Safety building, the DPW garage and offices and a multitude of essential equipment, the Township was still able to respond to our residents affected by the storm, rescued many people and saved numerous lives, and provided post-storm clean-up to all those damaged by the storm. Additionally, the BOC lobbied the state of New Jersey to finally secure permanent state aid and remove the uncertainty of diminishing transitional aid we received following Roche’s departure. This now provides Nutley with a predictable financial roadmap for our future.
The BOC gets criticized - and we are receptive to it, as any representative body should be - but please keep in mind that the issues and challenges we have been managing for the past few years are complex and multi-faceted. I am proud of how the BOC carefully considers all options and renders decisions that we firmly believe are in the Township’s best interest. We will continue fighting for all residents on these issues while protecting the character of the town that we all love. I am proud to serve with these four dedicated public servants and excited about the future of our Township.