Avalon Maplewood — Courtesy: AvalonBay Communities
By Joshua Burd
AvalonBay Communities Inc. has opened the doors to its new luxury apartment complex in Maplewood, some 15 months after a fire tore through the property just weeks before its original completion date.
The developer welcomed township officials, stakeholders and other well-wishers on Wednesday to hail the opening of the 235-unit rental project, which sits at the corner of Boyden and Springfield avenues. In brief remarks, AvalonBay executive Ron Ladell credited the development team and local leaders for their role, but offered special praise for Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca after what could have been a devastating setback.
“Without the trust you showed in us — and I hope we delivered for you — we would not be able to realize your vision in this part of Maplewood and the Springfield Avenue corridor, and see what we have today,” said Ladell, a senior vice president with AvalonBay, who oversees the company’s operations in New Jersey. “So thank you for your trust.”
The midrise community showed no signs of the predawn fire that broke out in early February 2017, when it was still under construction. The six-alarm blaze reportedly destroyed about 100 units and left dozens more with water or smoke damage, about a month before Avalon Maplewood was scheduled to open.
Authorities later ruled the cause to be undetermined, but deemed that it was not suspicious in nature.
DeLuca recalled meeting Ladell at the site the day after the fire, saying “it was a heartbreak.” But both he and the developer spoke of a resolve to rebuild, while crediting first responders and the construction team that was forced to start over for much of the project.
The result is a new complex with features such a modern fitness center, rooftop patio, courtyards and a host of other high-end amenities. DeLuca expected the project to have a ripple effect on the surrounding area.
“This is so very important to our Springfield Avenue development and the development of our community,” DeLuca said, later adding: “It’s a game-changer for Maplewood and a game-changer for Springfield Avenue.”