Your Design Story

Our Design Storybook includes five files that anyone can use to sketch ideas they have for the Post Office structure.  This is a valuable exercise for two reasons:

1.  People like us love to do it–hopefully some of you will too.

2.  The Planning Board, beginning September 8th, will be considering the question of  significant financial hardship.¹  Those words appear in a local ordinance that says that in Maplewood Village, any owner who would like to tear down a structure must first show that it represents a significant financial hardship to own.

3.  This site is owned by the taxpayers–shouldn’t they provide some ideas, along side JMF Properties?

For now, let the lawyers decide what “significant” means.   We have one example that gives an idea of what the current structure might be worth.  First a few words of background:For commercial buildings, the “tax value” (assessment) of a structure is related to how it is used–which is to say, how much business–profit generation–goes on within the structure.   The number is usually expressed on a square foot basis.  For the Post Office, the number of $89 per square foot, for the 11,000 square feet that comprise the first floor.  The total was $979,000 of assessed value while the US Postal Service was a tenant.

By comparison, Maplewood movie theater is assessed at $91/square foot, King’s at $182/square foot, and Trattoria at $299/square foot.  These are the assessments that determine how much tax is paid by each location.

As a simple example, we can imagine a supermarket on the first floor of the Post Office structure (11,000 square feet), and a CVS in the basement (4500 square feet).  The new CVS on Valley Street is assessed at $214/square foot (structure only).  Let’s use $200.

With these numbers, the Post Office structure would be assessed at $2.9 million, roughly 4.1 times its current assessment.

That’s a number that allows this to be fun.   The structure and land are owned by the taxpayers.  Evidently, the Town could sell it today, and expect a commercial investor to increase its value four-fold.   Alternatively, the Town could lease it (US Postal Service was a lessee for over 50 years), and similarly collect rent or taxes in a comparable amount.  Or they could do some combination, reserving a portion of public use (no taxes collected) and other portions for commercial use(generating taxes).  The point is, as public property with a strong, well maintained structure on it, it offers many alternatives for investment and design.

For an architect or civic planner, this is nirvana.   See what you can think up!

Send us your ideas to our email account, or share them on-line.

If you need these images printed large scale, ask us for a copy, or download the files and take them to Staples.

If you’re thinking there could be alternatives to the single proposal put forth by JMF and heavily supported by the Township, please contact our committee members directly.

Awareness is key here–  “If you are thinking something, say something!”.    Before we sell this land and structure to the only bidder, let’s look at the alternatives!


¹Update:  The Planning Board never heard the “hardship” appeal.   While it was originally scheduled for September 8th, the Board continued with the proposal review until granting preliminary approval in October, 2015.   The hardship appeal, as a matter of procedure, should have been heard before the application was deemed ready for review–but the Board reversed the order, heard the application, and granted approval first.   Those filing the appeal (Villagekeepers, LLC) subsequently withdrew the appeal recognizing the pre-existing approval meant that a civil law suit would need to be brought even if the hardship appeal had taken place.


These files show both existing floors, and a very detailed view of the office area on the first floor.   They also provide a “roof view” which allows you to imagine a floor added on top.   Send us your ideas for how to use these 15,000 + square feet!

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