Luxury or Ludicrous?


The 70-unit residential building coming to 555 Northfield Ave. Image via NJBIZ

As of October 2019, West Orange’s zoning department may have approved a decision upsetting many residents. 


In the Fall of 2019,  the West Orange Zoning Department approved a 70-unit residential building to be constructed right on the corner of 555 Northfield Ave. The West Village apartment building is scheduled to contain one to three-bedroom units of 1,100-1,600 square feet, and be accompanied by a 1,900 square foot retail unit as well as an 11,000 square foot private preschool, Primrose School. 


Rocca Varma, a Florham Park-based developer for Varma RE Development, shared with Jersey Digs that the complex will incorporate a roof-top deck, outdoor patio, entertainment space, fitness room, yoga lounge, and more. The building will serve as a “luxury lifestyle building,” according to Varma. 


However, for many locals within West Orange, it seems to be a different story. One West Orange local reports feeling “definitely not excited.”


“I feel that our area is already heavily overpopulated as it is. Traffic is just going to be progressively worse and it’s really not something I’m looking forward to.”


Others carry concerns about overdevelopment and the quality of the town’s schools with the incoming influx of people, set to arrive in spring of 2022, the estimated time for the building’s completion. 


“When I think of all the new construction I think of New York and it’s over-building. Which creates overpopulation in the schools and the area as well,” says another resident who’s been living in West Orange for over five years. 


Earlier this May, one citizen, Matt Dragon, even went as far as creating an online petition in hopes his proposition for senior/ rent-controlled housing in place of the building would get around town. Stating, “Rent controlled units, and age-restricted units, similar to the plan for the existing library would be a great resource for the community.” Dragon believes with the units “the community would be more likely to support the effort. This alternative would benefit everyone with past or future ties to West Orange and St. Cloud.” However, the petition was not made to generate any direct funds for the cause and only received a total of 35 signatures. But, despite the construction’s progression over the past 5 months, West Orange locals are still not afraid to voice their concerns.