Pfizer Property to Become Housing, Retail Complex

Developer purchased land, plans to covert area could increase Morris Plains population by 25%.

The start of a long process began this month for the former Pfizer property on Route 53, when a Clifton-based developer purchased the site with grand plans for a mix of retail and housing.

The property, straddling the train track on the west side of Route 53, was purchased on Aug. 16 by M&M Realty Partners of Clifton. The two principals of M&M, Joe Marino and Jack Morris, have extensive experience in real estate development in New Jersey, California and Florida, according to a statement on the Morris Plains website.

Their largest redevelopment project in New Jersey is the former Garden State Race Track in Cherry Hill, the statement said. "This property was converted into a successful 'mixed use' development which included retail shops and housing," according to the statement.

A joint Planning Board, Borough Council meeting was held Aug. 20 to hear M&M give a concept overview of their plan for the site. That plan includes demolition of all existing buildings on the site, according to the statement. In addition, because the property is in a flood plain, "extensive environmental work is planned," the release states.

Building plans include a mix of retail shops and housing. "This is the start of a long process," the release states.

The results, however, have at least one resident worried. Alan Albin, the Morris Plains representative on the Morris School District Board of Education, noted during their meeting Monday this plan holds the potential to increase the borough's population by 25 percent, he said.

Kim M August 28, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Oh good.,.....build in a flood plain then when it floods there will be shock and horror and requests for federal assistance. I wonder how this will be mitigated and how that will impact adjacent areas regarding drainage and flooding elsewhere. I hope that the developer is held to the stringent standards that are required for higways and other proejcts for government clients.
Matt August 28, 2012 at 01:51 PM
wow.... short term fix to tax burden but long term downside 1)taking away retail business from shops in downtown that have been there for years 2) long term costs to accommodating education growth (more teachers, new school) 3)Increased pressure on infrastructure upgrades and traffic patterns 4) decreased home appeal for existing homes due to large increase in availability to live in Morris Plains at a much more affordable option. 5) how to manage the empty space allotted for water drainage?
clyde donovan August 28, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Environmental rules and regulations only apply to people who don't have money and power. Any developer willing to bribe the right people can build on any swamp, flood plain, wetlands, etc. "Kim," why would township officials care about providing flood assistance? They won't be living there and it's not their money that will be spent for flood assistance and mitigation. Look at the flood issues in Parsippany's Lake Hiawatha. After Hurricane Irene the politicians gave the people of Hiawatha the stiff middle finger. The state plan called Smart Growth encourages very high density development in various places around the state - including Morris Plains, Morristown and Parsippany - simply as a way to keep development out of areas where the affluent live. Gov. Chris Christie, a Mendham resident and fake conservative Republican, hasn't done one damn thing to stop Smart Growth policies.
Daryl Signorelli August 28, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I see the Patch wrote this article almost verbatum of what the Borough released on it's Official Morris Plains site EXCEPT that this one statement was omitted: [In addition, because the property is in a flood plain extensive environmental work is planned.] This work involves enlarging the existing drainage pond and adding additional wetlands near the Watnong Brook. Keep in mind that this was a "Concept Overview" meeting with both the Council and the Planning Board.
MP2012 August 28, 2012 at 09:38 PM
This land will (or probably should) end up on the EPA's Superfund list. But if it doesn't, when are they going to build another school? Because I just paid a hefty Property Tax bill to have to have my kids in overcrowded schools. After the project on 202 and this new one, is there really going to be enough room?
val August 28, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Patch did a video interview, last year, on Irene's impact on several residential properties on valley stream circle. http://morris.patch.com/articles/like-the-colorado-river-in-morris-plains#video-7556110. I have not heard of any progress to resolve the flooding issues that occurred. The flood waters came from several areas, including the Watnong Brook. Given the history of flooding on this property, i don't understand how funding was found to even buy the property.
clyde donovan August 29, 2012 at 02:18 AM
You pay all that money and your kids have to go to Morristown High School, a politcially correct dump. Save your pennies for private school.
VietNam Vet August 29, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Sounds like the state is going to have another flood area to clean up, and more money to pump into this area. It sounds like the only one making out here is Morris Plains, in all the tax revenue they're going to get.
MP2012 August 29, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Our only voice will be in the polls in November and the Novembers that follow. We need to get rid of the administration currently in office that supports this project.
Matt August 30, 2012 at 02:12 AM
MP2012... that is our only hope but just like many other things they will find ways to pass this ... i fear it may be too late.
Betsy September 03, 2012 at 09:29 PM
It amazes me that the planning board will STILL allow more building upstream from the flood plains we live in on Bromleigh Way, Lake Valley Rd, etc...so many areas in our twp. How can they allow this knowing the ramifications of such building!
Al Krotoff September 04, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I just hope this project doesn't get rammed down the MP constituents throats like the big rateable that Pfizer built across the street from this site. Great forward thinking on everyone's part there! My guess is that there are other environmental concerns at the site including leaking underground storage tanks and the associated cleanup, asbestos, lead, etc. Also, isn't this technically part of the Highlands and requires special approval?
BeachBum November 30, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Environmental Nightmare - Not to mention it is a flood zone
orbit7er April 02, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Why do they need any retail stores when residents can walk a mile to the Main Street locally owned stores in Morris Plains? It may make sense to do a few housing units without huge parking allocations as Transit Oriented Development with access to the Morris Plains train station. But a strip mall, 800 units and no doubt at least 800 parking spots is a disaster! To be viable Transit oriented development then Morris Plains needs to press Gov Christie down the road in Mendham to restore the 7 weekday trains he cut in 2010, the 21 weekday trains Corzine cut in 2008 and the weekend Hoboken trains cut in 2006... Are the developers going to pay for train service?


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