MALTA – Within several years, the town of Malta could see the construction of more new office and retail spaces.
At the most recent planning board meeting, several members expressed concern about new or continuing proposals calling them “overly optimistic projections of demand for commercial space” in Malta. Although what has been proposed is located in different areas, the board noted the existing vacancies in current properties.
The two major plans discussed included 40 State Farm Place and the Park Place commercial development at the intersection of Route 9 and Landau Boulevard. The former has been marketed space for the better part of a decade, while the latter was receiving approval for a new plan for the lot.
The plans for 40 State Farm Place were originally approved in 2010. Despite a variety of methods for advertising the space — online listings, brokers, site signage, etc — the large building remains vacant.
“Unfortunately, market conditions have not allowed us to find tenants or rent the space thus far,” said project representative, John Rosenblum.
He did emphasize, however, that the lot was “shovel ready;” utilities have been extended and construction permits had been received.
Rosenblum said “the lack of demand” could be the lingering effects of the most recent recession. Rosenblum also said that prospective tenants found the site favorable but for a variety of other reasons were not yet prepared to make the move.
Board member John Viola was less optimistic. “We keep going forward,” Viola said, ” but every time we turn around there’s no activity.”
Ultimately, the board voted to grant State Farm a one-year extension on the site approval, as opposed to the two years they had been requesting.
The Park Place proposal, unveiled earlier this year, would be located just below exit 12 and feature up to 80,000 square feet of commercial property, not including multi-story additions. The current plans include a bank, pharmacy, daycare facility, restaurant, two service bases and two retail buildings.
The major modifications and points of contention between the board and developer were the plans for parking and pedestrian sidewalks.
Potential traffic issues, a frequent topic in previous meetings, remain a concern of the board indicating probable heavy traffic from the convergence of daycare drop-offs and bank customers. There was also question about the building materials as acceptable, and whether the renderings were consistent with Town of Malta aesthetic.
Planning board member David Bowman “did not see a problem” with a request to extend hours of the Malta Flea Market, which begins on select Sundays starting in May at the Malta Drive-In. Although a public hearing must be held, by law, to extend the market hours, he also said he “did not understand why there was a restriction in the first place”.
The flea market is expected to have at least 50 vendors.