October 7, 2020

Work on 345 Morris Commons apartments in Rockaway Twp. begins

ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP — Construction has begun on hundreds of apartments that will sit at the top of Commons Way.

Blasting to clear the site has residents asking about the daily explosions that have joined the cacophony along with Picatinny Arsenal’s weapons testing and Tilcon’s quarry work.

At the top of Commons Way will be two entrances leading to nine residential buildings, three to four stories high, arranged in a horseshoe shape. Township officials expect these 345 rental apartments to be bustling three years from now.

Russo Development first proposed building on the site more than 10 years ago. The town settled with Russo last year and the project resumed under a new partnership between Russo and the Kushner Real Estate Group, together known as R and K Commons. The KRE Group was founded by Eugene Schenkman and Murray Kushner, whose nephew is Jared Kushner.

“I can imagine that as more and more construction trucks are rolling up Green Pond and they are doing the blasting activity, residents will be increasingly concerned about the progress of this development,” said Municipal Engineer Allison Ferrante.

The development, at 600 and 700 Commons Way, designed by Lambertville-based Minno and Wasko, sits on 45.18 acres cut into a slope that features three-story buildings sitting on elevated land and four-story buildings with first-floor garages.

A clubhouse with a footprint of 11,267 square feet and a height of 1 1/2 stories will be located near the front of the property, according to town documents. It will contain a gym, yoga room, lounge, meeting rooms, reading room, leasing offices, storage space and restrooms.

The daily blasting to clear the land, which was originally scheduled to end this month, “is going much slower than initially anticipated,” Ferrante said. Residents can now expect the booming to end in December, according to the contractor’s update.

“You will see material that is blasted being crushed on site and used for filling areas that they are raising,” said Ferrante.

Excavation will follow for utilities.

“They like to do as much earth work as they can before we get into those freezing temperatures,” said Ferrante.

This will include leveling and filling. The first foundations will be poured in November. Once the ground begins to freeze the builder will switch to “stick work,” or the above ground work, like framing and building the homes.

The project is expected to take three years with renters moving in as each building is approved by inspectors.

“Once they get the first building completed they will start to occupy and then progress,” said Township Planner David Novak.

Each building will have affordable homes mixed in that won’t be discernible from the others, Novak said, adding that a “certain number of the affordable housing units will be designated for special needs or assisted living.”

A maximum of 305 units will be market-rate rentals and be offered as one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, according to town documents.

There will be a minimum of 40 non-age restricted affordable apartments, which will be sold at three different tiers of affordability. Unit sizes will vary from 773 square feet for a one bedroom to 1,286 square feet for a three-bedroom unit.

There will be 714 parking spaces, with the bulk of that to be a residential parking lot for 412 spaces, garage parking for 146 cars with driveways accounting for 146 spaces, as well as additional parking for offices.