In a recent meeting, the River Edge Land Use Board primarily discussed the proposed aesthetic enhancements and associated costs for a property located at 101 Midland Avenue, which previously housed a Dunkin Donuts. Board members debated various modifications to both the property’s exterior and interior, striving to find a balance between beautifying the space and the financial implications for property owners.
The property, often referred to as the “Northern Gateway” to the community, is under consideration for repurposing. Mr. Sayed Ispahani of Five Flowers Corporation, represented by Mr. Barrett, applied for site plan approval for a food handler’s license for a proposed high-end coffee shop named “Human Being.” Mr. Barrett presented various amendments and plans, such as building a small retaining wall adorned with seasonal plants, addressing the appearance of the trash enclosure, and adjusting certain signage like the size of a coffee cup sign. However, significant contention arose surrounding potential street enhancements, with Mr. Barrett and Mr. Merman taking opposing views. Barrett was keen on enhancing the northern gateway’s look, emphasizing the area’s need for a “modified streetscape.” In contrast, Merman cautioned against the financial burden these enhancements might place on the property owner.
Interior changes were also in focus. The coffee shop intends to maintain an existing hood for baking, countering initial concerns about potential odors. The board learned that the café’s operational logistics included smaller vehicles like UPS or FedEx for deliveries and emphasized a relaxed coffee experience different from Dunkin’ Donuts.
Outside of the primary topic, discussions also turned to renovations for the borough hall, with plans presented for a new entrance design shared earlier on September 22nd. The aim was to ensure ADA compliance and enhance aesthetics. A notable point of concern here was the preservation of the 911 Memorial, which Mayor Thomas Papaleo clarified would remain intact. Several council members, including Mr. Gibbons, expressed specific suggestions, such as the choice of brick pavers over concrete and concerns about tree placement overshadowing the new memorial.
The meeting culminated in the unanimous approval of modifications for the property at 101 Midland Avenue, including decisions on rooftop screening, sign sizes, seating capacity, and operational hours.