The project will demolish two currently vacant properties, and construct a three-story building with two commercial storefronts and 18 apartments above.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 3, 2023
On Tuesday, the Haddonfield Planning Board unanimously approved a 23,000 square-foot, mixed-use project that will add two commercial storefronts and 18 residential units across two lots on Ellis Street.
Presented as “Ellis Street Lofts,” the project from Haddonfield resident Phil Marone’s Maple Land Holdings, LLC is set to demolish a single-family home at 122 Ellis Street as well as an adjacent office building at 118 Ellis Street, and combine the properties into a single, freestanding building.
The construction will create 2,150 square-feet of first-floor commercial space, spread across two storefronts within a single building, with 13,525 square-feet of residential space across 18 units on its second and third floors.
Ellis Street Lofts will include three affordable (two two-bedroom units and one three-bedroom unit) and 15 market-rate units, a mixture of one-bedroom (six) and two-bedroom (nine) units.
The properties it will replace are both currently unoccupied. The construction will remove the side yard at 118 Ellis Street; it also shrinks the rear yard setback by approximately 16 feet.
Although the project would increase impervious coverage on the site by about 1 percent over current ratios, to about 75 percent of the area, it includes the construction of an underground retention basin that will keep more than 43 percent of stormwater onsite.
Of its 68 feet of Ellis Street frontage, the building will dedicate 55 feet to retail uses, with 13 feet devoted to a residential entrance that’s set back 15 feet from the sidewalk.
Building elevations provided by the King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based architecture firm of Victor L. Barr, Jr. demonstrate design features like box bay windows, sloped roofs, parapets, and railings in the residential space.
A cornice band separates the commercial from the residential spaces, with a brick base and wood wainscoting around its windows.
The new property will offer 33 onsite parking spaces, including two electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and three spaces that will be pre-wired for future conversion to EV charging spaces.
Among a handful of variances awarded to the project was one for building height (39.5 versus 36 feet in the D-1 Downtown zoning district), and another for relief from the 70-percent-of-frontage glazing requirements (the commercial segment of the building will have 60 percent glass frontage instead).
The applicant offered no specificity as to the kinds of prospective commercial tenants that would be sought for the site.
The Haddonfield Planning Board application includes an informational-only “green development practices” checklist, with which compliance is not required for project approval. Nonetheless, Ellis Street Lofts will not include reusable building materials, nor green building practices, save for exterior LED lighting.
No solar power is planned for the site, nor the inclusion of EnergyStar products; neither does the project contemplate any work to address rooftop heat. Despite its relative proximity to the Haddonfield PATCO Speedline station, and the borough downtown in general, the lofts will not include bicycle parking, integration, or storage.
Neighbors expressed concerns about existing easements to adjoining properties, traffic impact of the site, and the management of the properties by previous owners.
Maple Land Holdings attorney Damian Del Duca described the project as “improving the building quantitatively and qualitatively,” in terms of its net benefit to the community over the existing structures.
“Yes, you’re getting density here that you don’t have now with residential units, and you may not like that… but those are the rules on the books today, so we tried to comply with them,” Del Duca said.
The board reacted nearly uniformly positively to the project.
Long-serving member Doug McCollister described it as “consistent with the intent and purpose of downtown zoning ordinances,” before remarking on the “structural and technical issues of building in downtown Haddonfield,” and suggesting that the board should take these up among its master plan committee to avoid so frequently issuing variances for statutory compliance.
“The point of the ordinances is to get people on the second and third floor[s of borough commercial buildings],” McCollister said. “It’s a pretty good project. I think it’s a good thing that we’re replacing some dilapidated buildings with some new uses.”
Planning Board Chair Shawn McCaney was similarly enthusiastic.
“We need to find ways to provide more multi-family housing in Haddonfield, which we’ve lost a great deal over the years, and I’m excited that we’re thinking about apartments as part of this project,” McCaney said.
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