DOVER – The mayor and board of aldermen have unanimously endorsed conceptual plans for a 214-unit apartment complex with a retail component to be constructed as an urban renewal project on West Dickerson Street.
Representatives of developer Capodagli Property Co. gave the board an overview of its proposal Tuesday night, the result of nearly a year’s labor on how three parking lots in town — two owned by Dover, the third by Dover Business College — could be transformed by a project that would tempt people into moving to town and using its businesses.
Capodagli Property, owned by longtime Kinnelon resident George M. Capodagli, in May 2014 responded to a town request for proposals on redevelopment of the existing public parking lots near the Dover Train Station.
Tuesday night, Capodagli agents answered questions from the board and heard requests for aesthetic changes before receiving a unanimous endorsement from the board of aldermen. The approval was in the form of a resolution that allows Capodagli to proceed to a May 27 hearing before the Planning Board on its site plan application for what it calls Meridia Transit Plaza.
One Capodagli representative said the project has “millennials” with “walking wallets” in mind — or the population born roughly between 1975 and 1994 that has grown up with digital technology, the Internet, educational debt and need for quality, affordable housing.
Housing for the ‘middle masses’
George Capodagli told the Daily Record he loves the county and wants to offer quality housing for the “middle masses” or people who are not wealthy but not poor. He estimated he will invest between $35 million and $40 million in the project and rents will roughly range from $1,300 to $1,900.
“Dover is a town we know and we specialize in emerging areas. This is the market we service, the millennials,” said George Capodagli, who also has constructed residential complexes in Bound Brook, Hackensack and Linden. He said he is currently under contract to buy a second, blighted parcel in Dover and working on its redevelopment with apartments.
“We have tremendous luxuries in our buildings, tremendous securities,” Capodagli said.
The facade of Meridia Transit Plaza would be 371 feet in length, and the structure would contain four stories of residential units. Proposed retail shops on the bottom level would open onto a courtyard of porous paving stones that would be accessible to the public. Enclosed parking within the building would be open to the public during the day but closed at night, available only to building occupants.
Town Engineer Michael Hantson, who worked closely with the developer along with Mayor James P. Dodd, said loss of the parking lots won’t be troublesome for the town. A study done on parking needs in Dover concluded the overnight need for public parking is miniscule, he said.
Hantson noted that the building will have an elegant, two-story lobby that willenhance the streetscape on both West Dickerson and Blackwell streets.
“It’s actually going to have like a five-star hotel entrance,” Hantson told the board.
Dodd said the project, if approved by the Planning Board, will bring in necessary tax revenues to the town. The two town-owned parking lots that would be replaced by Meridia Transit Plaza are not revenue-makers, he said. Hantson noted that the project also does not involve condemning any properties.
The developer hopes to break ground on the project in the next few months and expects to be leasing units by the spring of 2016. He estimated the entire project will take 24 to 36 months to complete.
Borough officials are entertaining a proposal to build a 230-unit apartment complex off Main Street.
Representatives of the developer, Capodagli Property Company of West New York, gave a brief presentation of the plan that the company will formally bring before the borough in the near future.
This presentation was held in front of a packed audience of concerned residents at the April 20 Borough Council meeting.
After the presentation, nearly a dozen residents spoke and questioned the plan. Most were not supportive of such a large development along the busy Main Street corridor.
Resident Richard Lane said it already takes him 15 minutes to get out of his driveway during rush hour, and he expressed concerns about additional traffic the development could add to Main Street.
Several residents urged the governing body to consider how a development of this size could impact the local school population.
Capodagli representative, Joseph Gurkovich said the project would be beneficial to the borough because the new residents it would bring in would support local businesses, and because the site would bring in over $1 million in ratables annually.
During the meeting, several residents questioned where the $1 million figure came from, and suggested the governing body look at the impact the proposed development would have on the local police, fire and public works departments.
Gurkovich said the company plans to purchase two parcels of land near the American Legion building totaling 4.5 acres. During the meeting, the Gurkovich said the sale of the two properties would be contingent upon the approval of the project.
The proposal is only in the beginning stages, and the presentation was just a formality to help introduce the idea to the governing body, Gurkovich said.
The next steps for the developer would be to seek approvals from the local zoning and planning boards.