Maplewood Woman's Club is Back on the Market

Original buyer backed out after neighbors sued to block sale.


The article has been updated with a comment from Tom Kerns.

After more than three years of lawsuits and delays, The Woman's Club of Maplewood is back on the market, after the original buyer backed out.

The historic property at 60 Woodland Road is currently listed for $1,999,900, according to Caroline Farnsworth of Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct Realty in Maplewood Village.

In March of 2011, , Maplewood resident and co-founder of HK Project, purchased the building for an undisclosed amount. But the completion of the sale has been tied up in a lawsuit since October of that year.

"The decision to suspend the process of purchasing the property was not an easy one, but the reasons for doing so are personal," said Kerns in an email to Patch. "I am saddened that I had to make this decision especially for what it means to the community, but I will continue to focus on engaging our community through our work at HK Project, including finding ways to continue to support the arts through Studio B, our performing arts division."

The property first went on the market in August of 2010 for an asking price of $2.4 million. In February of that year, Maplewood Township had brought suit against the Woman's Club claiming that it should be paying taxes on the property because it was renting to for-profit ventures.

The Township and the Woman's Club eventually came to a settlement stipulating that the Woman's Club pay $55,000 in lieu of taxes to the Township over five years. The club said it could not afford the sum and would be forced to relocate and sell. The property remained tax exempt and the Township dropped its suit.

When Kerns purchased the property, the price was speculated to be much lower than asking because he agreed not to raze the building or build additions. Kerns would not receive any tax abatements from the town. 

Kerns said he wanted to restore the club to be used for community events as well as weddings and other events. "I have the opportunity to create a space that is popular with the community. But also do it in such a way that it's a benefit to the village," said Kerns in an interview with Patch shortly after the sale.

That summer, the Maplewood Zoning Board of Adjustment granted Lamona a variance for continuation of a non-conforming use, allowing the sale to move forward. But, in October, Woodland and Inwood Road neighbors sued the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Lamona LLC challenging the variance.  The neighbors had appeared at the ZBA meeting in June to complain of noise and traffic related to events at the building.

Althought Kerns offered concessions stipulating that the use of amplified music would be limited to certain times, and that a parking solution would be found, the lawsuit dragged on without resolution.

Patch has reached out to Kerns for comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.

John Harvey January 30, 2013 at 01:29 AM
CJV, I did not write in this thread or suggest that the Mayor and the TC should "get involved" in this issue, as you quoted me in your post. I did write, the Mayor and/or TC " ....they can play a leadership role", that "they can engage the community...", and they can "... play an influential role.". All of which I believe. In my opinion, the Mayor was very involved when the approval was pending, and I never wrote or implied that anyone, including the Mayor was apathetic on the issue. Later - John
John Harvey January 30, 2013 at 01:38 AM
CJV, it was not the neighbors demanding a parking plan it was Township zoning requiring a specific number of parking spaces provided by the owner based on the change of use, and the new focus of the venue. I agree that on-the-street parking is for the common good, although my side of Inwood is a "no parking" zone. And trust, that someone can still support the Village developing and increasing our tax base while also disagreeing with the parking plan that was provided. I am not sure what you mean when you say, "as I expected, you falsely denied...". Any clarity you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks - John
CJV January 30, 2013 at 03:13 AM
John, the neighbors challenged a granting of a variance by the Township. The Township was satisfied with the plans. You've tried to blame the TC for not being involved, which is untrue, and now you've tried to blame the TC for requiring onsite parking for this project, which is untrue.
John Harvey January 30, 2013 at 03:51 PM
CJV, you continue to allege that I blamed the Mayor or the TC for not being involved. Is there anything I can say or write to convince you that this has not been my contention? I have written the TC could be/should be more engaged, more influential, and exhibit more leadership on the issue, but I do not believe I ever said not involved. The variance was not given by the TC, but provided by the zoning requirements. It may be a surprise to you but many people do not trust the intentions of politicians and/or zoning boards. I was at some of the meetings and believe the Board disregarded the parking requirement in providing the variance, without good cause - there were experts on both sides of the aisle. The neighbors did not trust the decision of the Board, and were concerned with the problems the variance would create. So, they, used the solutions available to them to contest the variance. Why should they be considered lowlifes for following the available channels for resolution? To your second point, it is the zoning requirements that determines the amount of parking required based on the use of the property - not the TC. CJV, you have called neighbors lowlifes, you have quoted me incorrectly more than once, and now you are sharing my alleged mis-truths. I still wonder if the conversation would be more constructive and respectful if you shared who you are. Just a thought - John
CJV February 06, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Carolyn, I noticed the TC last night introduced a parking change for Woodland. Can you tell me what this is about?


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