Irvington outlines upcoming development at tri-community seminar

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IRVINGTON, NJ — With upcoming changes planned for the communities of Irvington, East Orange and Orange, a joint Economic & Residential Development Seminar was held at Sandwiches Unlimited in Orange on May 18, where municipal panelists were welcomed from all three communities to educate the public about upcoming development. The event was sponsored by the Business & Professional Association of the Oranges, the Irvington Chamber of Commerce, the Irvington Springfield Avenue Business Improvement District, and the Orange Chamber of Commerce.

Panelist Kyana Woolridge, Irvington’s director of community development and planning, discussed what will be happening within the township of Irvington and the special attention the East Ward needs.

“We’ve just had the expansion of the East Ward redevelopment plan. Primarily, I focus all of my energy on the East Ward. If anyone lives or works in Irvington, you understand why the East Ward was in the worst shape ever,” Woolridge said at the event. “In order for development to start in the East Ward, we actually had to update the East Ward redevelopment plan. That was passed by the Council two Council meetings ago. Now, you’ll begin to start seeing things move in Irvington.

“The first major project that you will probably notice is the 21st Street–area project. In that area, the New Jersey Schools Development Authority purchased over 30 lots, and those lots have been vacant for over 10 years,” she continued. “Those lots were designated for a school development that never happened. We are now in contract with SDA so that Irvington can purchase back those lots, and we can do a development in that area.”

The township is also working on developing an urgent care center, a gated community and more on Grove Street.

“Another major development is an urgent care, because, as everyone knows, Irvington lost its only hospital,” Woolridge said; Irvington General Hospital closed in 2006. “So, we’re going to put an urgent care there, an urban farm, a gated community, as well as a community center. It’s going to be major development in that area. Within the East Ward, along Springfield Avenue, we’re going to do two major mixed-use residential villages. We’re also trying to do a commercial Wawa site on that Springfield Avenue corridor, as well.

“The intersection of Grove Street and South Orange Avenue is another major development as well,” Woolridge continued. “That site has been vacant and abandoned for over 20 years, and that’s where Irvington and Newark meet.”

According to Woolridge, the town intends to create a redevelopment plan for Grove Street and will likely offer redevelopers long-term tax exemptions in order to build there.

Woolridge also discussed the project to erect residential buildings at the site of the former hospital, adding that work there has already begun.

“Phase 1 is built; if you go by there, you’ll see the residential building there,” Wooldridge said of the hospital site. “We’re starting Phase 2, which is a 94-unit senior building. They’ve also started construction on that. If you go there, you’ll see that they’re beginning to build a foundation and that project is set in phases.

“Phase 3 is a 10-story, which was changed to a six-story, 88-unit building. Phase 4 is 88 units as well. Phase 5 is 225 units and 10 stories. Phase 6 will be two-family duplex units,” she continued, adding that Phase 6 will encourage homeownership. “Phase 7 will be a restaurant, and that concludes the phases of the hospital site. That site is going to go on for a very long time. But Phase 2, we’re starting now. They have Planning Board approval to do Phase 3 and Phase 4.”

In addition to the luxury residential tower that is currently planned for 750 Chancellor Ave., Woolridge said the town is looking to build additional affordable housing on Chancellor Avenue.

“We have 722 Chancellor Ave., which is the intersection of Union Avenue and Chancellor Avenue. That has also been vacant for a very long time. (Developers Adenah Bayoh and NRP Group) were able to obtain tax credit approval, and they’re going to start construction very soon,” Woolridge said. “That building will be 94 units and will be mixed used. It’s affordable housing, so that’s why they were able to get a certain amount of tax credits.”

Overall, Woolridge is excited for the future redevelopment in Irvington.

Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman