[Update November 2016: In the holiday spirit, it’s now time to sing “It’s a small world after all” together. Following Victor DeLuca’s announcement that he had brokered a deal between a local resident and the Clarus Maplewood owners for a 4000 square foot farm-to-table restaurant, we came to find out that Steve Kalafer lives in the town where the prospective restaurant owners operate “Gladstone Tavern”, their first endeavor..which is also an acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant. The Gladstone Tavern locale is shown below…and lyrics are here.]
The proposed restaurant is likely to be a hit. At 120 seats plus a bar, however, it was not anticipated in our planning documents, which only required about 10 parking spaces for this portion of the building. Ten parking spaces for some retail and service businesses would be fine–ten parking spaces for a sit-down restaurant and bar–probably the largest food establishment in the Village–is not. Other merchants through-out the Village will be forced to share capacity during what could be their most profitable hours of the week.
That’s one data-point of many that good planning considers. What has worried us the most since public conversation on this site began in 2012 is the lack of quantitative analysis of options. Indeed, as recently as Spring 2015 the Village merchant community reached out to the Township and JMF Properties for discussion (see Planning A Great Result), but were told then that the developer, as new owner, was free to lease the new retail spaces in any way he cared to.
If Steve were here right now, the first thing he’d probably share with us is that he owns seventeen automobile franchises. Really, it’s very impressive:
And then he might point his cell phone browser to an impressive photograph, showing his dealerships, out on Route 202 in Flemington:
(get the streetview at bit.ly/FlemingtonCars )
But that’s what he’d talk about if he was thinking about business. If we were relaxing together, he’d probably bring up baseball. And, surprisingly, minor league baseball!
Steve owns the Somerset Patriots! Anyone would talk about that—if they could. The Somerset team plays at Steve’s stadium off Route 287 in Somerset:
But that’s enough of us talking about Steve talking about Steve. Steve’s a small wonder! What would we ask Steve? The first question we’d probably have on our minds would be “Hey Steve, what’s up with Maplewood Village? Why are you hoping to buy the Maplewood Post Office building?”
He might answer that it’s like his other investments along NJ Transit lines–for example, Gladstone at Maplewood, LLC; Gladstone at Morristown, LLC, Gladstone at Glenridge, LLC. Steve and Joe Forgione have a formula and they want to bring it to Maplewood. Maplewood is a small world (after all), but after a few more deals like this one, and it can be someone’s Disney!
Asking why they are interested is an important question–because they want to buy it from us, the Maplewood voters and taxpayers! What’s the expression again…”cavaet vendit”? Yes, that it—it means “seller beware”.
Of course, Steve is probably hard to get on the phone, or find in Town somewhere. But Mayor DeLuca must know more—a sale like this is his fiduciary responsibility. His office hours are on the town web site (Tuesday night 11/10 7PM), his email is email@example.com, and he’ll be at the next Township Committee meeting, Monday, November 16th, 7:30PM.
The problem with choosing Steve is that the center of our Village is but a granule of sand in his sandbox. Is this guy a match? We are the sellers, free to sell to anyone. Mayor DeLuca wants to close the deal with Steve this month, for just $1 million. Many Maplewood residents would be interested at that price. Given this choice, don’t you want Mayor DeLuca to seek out those possibilities?
Steve is worth about $780 million dollars (patch.com/new-jersey/bernardsville-bedminster/bernardsville-resident-makes-wealthiest-new-jerseyans-list-0)
Here’s another way of looking at that. The properties surrounding Maplewood Village, shown within the red line below, are assessed, IN TOTAL, at $125 million. That’s just one-sixth of Steve’s net worth. Our new neighbor?
And if we look only at Maplewood Village, Mr. Kalafer stacks up thus:
WE KNOW, IT SEEMED LIKE EVERYTHING WAS OVER…GREG and NANCY WERE ELECTED, AND THAT DESIGN COMMITTEE SAID EVERYTHING WAS OK. WELL IN FACT, VIC SOLD THE PROPERTY ON NOVEMBER 16th BEFORE GREG ENTERED OFFICE, SO THAT JOE COULD GET A TAX BREAK! SO MORE NEWS IS COMING…ADD YOUR EMAIL BELOW IF YOU WANT MORE UPDATES. AND VOTE AT bit.ly/VoteVillage!