Hackensack Meridian to Take Over Barnes & Noble Spot

 

By JONATHAN CONNOR
For Union County HAWK

CLARK — On Thursday, during its annual reorganization meeting, the Clark Planning Board announced that the vacant former site of the Barnes & Noble at 1180 Raritan Road will be repurposed to house a new urgent care facility.

Hackensack-Meridian Health garnered the support of the board to construct a 39,016-square-foot facility on the site, which will ultimately consist of multi-purpose medical offices and a designated space for physical therapy.

The reorganization meeting began with nominee Kevin Koch’s re-election as board chairman for the new year. Michael Triola was elected as vice-chairman, Donna Mazzucco was appointed as board secretary, Albert Cruz was appointed as board attorney, Township Engineer Rich O’Connor was appointed as board engineer, and Township Planner Paul Ricci was appointed as board planner.

Mr. Koch opened the Thursday night hearing by calling upon applicant Hackensack-Meridian Health attorney and representative John A. Guinco. Mr. Guinco began the Hackensack-Meridian Health application proposal by stating that the location would occupy the “physical therapy site (Twin Boro Physical Therapy) and the Barnes & Noble to develop an ambulatory care center.” Mr. Guinco mentioned that the “ambulatory care center will provide a series of various services provided by Hackensack-Meridian Health to the public…for outpatient and appointments.” He added that the Chili’s restaurant that shares the lot will remain open.

Project Engineer Adam Westenberger mentioned in his presentation that the interior of the site will include a large number of medical offices and “a physical therapy component.” The parking lot, Mr. Westenberger continued, will be improved with repaired fences and trash enclosures, plus new, improved landscaping in the parking lot islands. He said that the applicant will be “reconstruct[ing] sidewalks and parking spaces” to meet ADA accessibility requirements.

Mr. Westenberger stated that there will be “five [Electric Vehicle] charging stations at the onset of the project” and that Hackensack-Meridian Health plans on installing nine more within six years of opening the facility. Parking stripes will be repainted and the fire lanes will be re-striped as requested by the fire marshal.

Mr. Westenberger also said that the Hackensack-Meridian Health buildings site will contain two exterior building mounted signs that are 210 square feet in size, and a smaller 103 square feet sign for the physical therapy component of the development.

The project as presented required the approval of a parking variance given the fact that there are 306 parking spaces available, where 342 spaces are required by township ordinances.

Corey Chase, traffic engineer, presented a report on the parking demands of the proposed Hackensack-Meridian Health facility and current Chili’s restaurant.

Mr. Chase mentioned that after a study was conducted, it was determined that the peak parking demands for the proposed Hackensack-Meridian Health facility and Chili’s restaurant are projected to be “approximately 57 percent occupancy of the parking on site.” Mr. Chase said, “we feel there is going to be more than sufficient parking supply on site to accommodate the redevelopment of the property.” Architect Deborah Vern mentioned on behalf of Hackensack-Meridian Health that the redevelopment plan for the vacant Barnes & Noble site calls for that space to “house a number of different practices,” including imaging services, an OB/GYN, general healthcare, a small lab for blood work, physical therapy and urgent care. Ms. Vern said that there would be renovations to the front entrance, which will be located at the previous Barnes & Noble entrance. She also said that Hackensack-Meridian Health plans on constructing a large lobby for patients, with numerous office suites on the further end of the building for treating patients.

Barbara Ehlen, Licensed Planner, mentioned in her presentation to the board that the application will be beneficial to the community because “it will contribute to a community’s tax base and provide expanded employment opportunities.”

The planning board and the public had no objections to the Hackensack-Meridian Health project proposal. Mayor Sal Bonaccorso said, “this, to me, is very beneficial…” in support of the application.

The next Clark Planning Board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, in the Council Chambers.

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