Lanidex Plaza Redevelopment and the Major Impact on Morris County Schools

Morristown Minute

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0AwOvi_0dKJqobN00
Phases 1 and 2 of brand new, mixed-use development, Parq Parsippany, approved by planning board.Rendering courtesy Design 446

UPDATE: MARCH 22, 2022 - PARQ has begun site-enabling works at the former Lanidex Plaza Complex in Morris County

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Following the onset and social isolation of COVID-19, office spaces around Morris County were left empty and unused. Many companies, predicting work-from-home as here to stay, have been selling off their office space.

In New Jersey, millions of square feet of office space have been targeted for repurposing into both industrial and residential spaces. According to officials familiar with the projects, the repurposing of office space will meet the increasing demand for affordable housing options and likely lower vacancy rates in New Jersey.

As repurposing begins to take place across New Jersey, Morris County will see its own ‘face-lift’ in a key location.

Officials broke ground at Lanidex Plaza in Parsippany, NJ earlier this week beginning the transformation of Lanidex plaza from a business park to a living community comprising of townhomes, multifamily residences, onsite retail, open spaces, and many state-of-the-art amenities.

The mixed-use development will be known as PARQ and is described by officials as a “multi-generational community.”

"Urban renewal and revitalization projects are vital to stimulate the economy, enhance property values and instill a sense of civic pride,” said Anthony Milelli, Principal Director of PARQ.

Prior to Lanidex Plaza and PARQ, the area was known as Olson’s Farm until about the late 1960s. The farm area was then rezoned as an office park, Lanidex Plaza, that served the Parsippany area for many years.

However, in the past few years, Lanidex Plaza saw a decline in activity and overall decay of its infrastructure. The decision was made to redevelop and repurpose the property for community housing.

Plans for PARQ were approved earlier this year for phases one and two of the new redevelopment project.

Phase 1 includes a multi-family building that features 275 multi-family residences, convenience stores, indoor and outdoor amenity spaces, parking, and 75 townhouses with a dedicated clubhouse and outdoor pool. The community will also have an athletic field, concession building, restrooms, and playgrounds, all to be built as part of Phase 1 development.

Phase 2 includes a second multi-family building with 250 residences, and additional convenience stores, indoor and outdoor amenity spaces, and additional parking.

Each multi-family building will include a lobby, club suite, private event rooms, child playrooms, fitness centers, a pool, and outdoor BBQ and lounging areas.

The redevelopment project will transform 23 acres of the former Lanidex Plaza and is scheduled to be completed in 2025. Planning and architecture designs are being handled by Minno & Wasko and PARQ Parsippany, with Mary Cook Associates designing the interior layouts.

"PARQ will forge us into the 21st century with state-of-the-art facilities, vast and welcoming green spaces for the community to enjoy, a recreational complex open to residents and sports programs to utilize, and enhanced revenue as a result of the site's modernization," said Haytham Haidar, Managing Director of PARQ.

While PARQ developers say the redevelopment is a positive forward trend for the Morris County community, not everyone is excited about the construction that has recently begun on the former Lanidex Plaza.

Residential areas around the redevelopment zone have seen construction vehicles as an unwelcome annoyance.

Construction is taking place throughout the day and has angered residents close to the area. Reports of the tree lines around residential homes being destroyed and dumped near private property, and loud construction vehicles roaring from as early as seven in the morning and lasting until four in the afternoon have caused an outcry on social media.

Many residents are concerned not only for the peace and quiet of their neighborhood but also for the environment, which was a major topic of concern for officials when seeking approval of the redevelopment project.

The construction, and annoyance to the surrounding residents, will continue well into 2025 creating a reality in which many homes in the surrounding area will have to live with the deafening sounds of construction and destruction to the surrounding land for the next four years.

The Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education spoke out against the redevelopment project citing the impact the project may have on the school district.

Beginning by stating that the School Board recognizes the need for more affordable housing, the board voiced their worries about how enrollment projections provided by developers may leave the board unable to continue to properly house and educate their students.

In a letter to the residents of the community, the board noted that class sizes across all grade levels will increase requiring many classes to be relocated to traveling carts, significantly compromising the student’s access to education. Additionally, the district's Capital Fund, traditionally assigned to facility upgrades, maintenance, and repairs, will be diverted to other areas to accommodate the increasing class sizes.

The School Board also noted that transportation costs will likely rise, and school attendance zones will have to be redrawn to relieve overcrowding in schools. As a result, some students could be displaced from their current home schools.

The New Jersey Department of Education does not allow school districts to build new buildings or expand current school buildings based on anticipated enrollment. The district must first see a dramatic increase in enrollment and demonstrate how the increased enrollment is impacting the educational program at that school. Therefore, education will take a heavy hit in the early years of PARQs completion and the school system likely won’t bounce back for two to three years after the completion of PARQ.

Furthermore, costs for schools in the area will increase, but schools will not be able to see an increase in revenue or taxes coming in as the board cannot increase the tax levy in any one year by more than 2%. Thus, the available fund to house and educate students will drop significantly holding many schools in the district back from adequately educating students and maintaining school infrastructure.

The School Board of Parsippany-Troy Hills calls for the town to recognize the impact of new housing projects like the PARQ redevelopment and allow more resources into schools to accommodate the projected increase in enrollment.

The PARQ development team includes Garofalo O'Neill Ruggierio, LLC, Real Estate Law; Minno & Wasko, Architects and Planners; Design 446, Marketing and Advertising; Greystar Real Estate Partners; Sue Adler, Keller Williams Premier Properties; Langan Engineering & Environmental Services; Melillo + Bauer Associates, Landscape Architects, and Mary Cook Associates, Interior Design.

The Parsippany Planning Board, responsible for the approval of the PARQ redevelopment can be contacted via phone at 973-263-4286. The Planning Board is located at 1001 Parsippany Boulevard in Parsippany, NJ. The board secretary is Nora O. Jolie and can be reached via email at njolie@parsippany.net.

Do you live around the redevelopment project? How do you feel about this new construction project that has just begun in the Morris County area? Let us know in the comments below.

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