Annie Sez project scheduled to open in September

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BLOOMFIELD,NJ — The mixed-use redevelopment project along Broad and Liberty streets is nearing completion and its developer, Daniel Mandelbaum, said he expects tenants by the end of summer.

“This was my father’s vision,” Mandelbaum said recently of the project. “The work started nine years ago. It took about eight years to go through the Bloomfield Planning Board for all agreements.”

Mandelbaum said his father, Laurence, died in 2013.
“Unfortunately, my father passed away 2 1/2 years ago,” he said. “He lived in Montclair and was the CEO of the family business, Mandee Shops and Annie Sez stores. He believed that Bloomfield was poised for a resurgence due to the direct train to Manhattan, similar to that which Montclair was going through.”

Mandelbaum said he and his father purchased additional properties around the Bloomfield site to begin the redevelopment process. An Annie Sez where the new project is going up. Across Broad Street was a Mandee Shop.

Some of the buildings razed for the redevelopment project had been part of the downtown fabric for almost 90 years. Notable was the Park Building, at 50 Broad St., which opened in 1927. It was a white, two-storied building with offices on the second floor and, according to a 1931 Bloomfield business directory, a confectionery and auto-repair shop at ground level.

By 1963, Lipton’s, a department store, occupied the lower level of the Park Building. More recently, the store was the Mandelbaum’s Annie Sez women’s clothing store. A Masonic Temple occupied the corner at Liberty Street by 1931. Butchers, dentists, haberdashers, the Bloomfield School of Music, and a myriad of other shopkeepers occupied the site along Broad Street at one time or another. Demolition for redevelopment began late April 2015.

“When it came time to build, we entered into a joint venture partnership with BNE Real Estate Group, of Livingston,” Mandelbaum said. “This is a family business that specializes in building mixed-use buildings in New Jersey. They will manage the residential portion of the building, while MCP, my firm, will manage the retail portion of the building due to our extensive experience in retail real estate. My family has been in the retail business for the last 70 years.”

He said the name of the project is “The Green.” “A cousin came up with the name,” Mandelbaum said.
Three to four small retail stores are planned for along Broad Street and hopefully a restaurant at the corner of Liberty Street. “There’s no deal yet,” Mandelbaum said. “We’re open-minded.”

But Mandelbaum said a restaurant for Bloomfield College and Bloomfield High School students is a possibility at the corner.

Prospective tenants are interested, and Mandelbaum said he gets calls every day.
“We’re going to market in a few weeks,” he said, “and hope to open in September.”
A mild winter helped construction, according to Mandelbaum.

“We’re months ahead of schedule,” he said. “We were able to fully frame the building.”
Above the retail portion there will be 140 apartments. Most of them, 93, will be one bedrooms ranging from 700 to 925 square feet. Thirty-nine will be two bedrooms, from from 1,050 to 1,260 square feet. There will be four one-bedrooms and den, at 1,135 square feet; and 555 square-foot studios. A fitness center and social lounge is also planned. Mandelbaum would not comment on the rents.

The project received a 30-year PILOT and will pay a percentage of its revenue instead of taxes, according to Glenn Domenick, the township director of community development. Mandelbaum said the township has been incredibly co-operative.

“It’s the same on the other side,” Mandelbaum said. “We haven’t had one problem with any neighbor. It’s a tight piece of land.”

The project ran into trouble while it was still on the drawing board. A loading zone was proposed for Broad Street opposite a new, mixed-use Bloomfield College building. The Township Council would not give its OK until Mandelbaum relocated the loading zone area. As a consequence, the trucks were to unload inside the parking garage for the project. The entrance to the garage is located on Liberty Street; the exit is on Bloomfield Avenue.

This change necessitated increasing the height of the entrance to the garage to allow trucks to pass. Mandelbaum said it made the project more expensive but it also made for a better-looking building. And without a loading area on Broad Street, the retail stores “pop out.”

“It’s a much nicer presence along Broad Street,” Mandelbaum said. “It’s going to look great juxtaposed with Bloomfield College. We were certainly aware of the college building when we built our building.”

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