Two historic Montclair homes that were razed, one in the middle of the night, are set to make way for a megamansion that will rival Mar-A-Lago in size.
A 60,000-square-foot megamansion proposed for a neighborhood in Montclair with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline will be bigger than the White House, and rank in scale right alongside The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island; Bill Gates’ Xanadu 2.0, and Mar-A-Lago.
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The proposed Lloyd Estate, according to plans recently filed with the town, will contain a bowling alley, a billiard room and a basketball court. The recreation won’t stop there: Also planned are a gym, spa, indoor and outdoor pools, a yoga room and a movie theater. Two elevators will serve the home, which will have a staff wing, four guest suites and a master suite with his-and-her balconies and kitchenette. Plans show parking for 22 cars.
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It will be built on the site on Undercliff and Lloyd Roads where two historic homes were razed in February, to the dismay of many Montclair residents.
The two homes knocked down to make way for the behemoth structure weren’t exactly fixer-uppers, either.
One, at 14 Undercliff Road, was a recently renovated 6,294-square-foot home built during the Civil War which sold for $3.88 million in January 2018. Its neighbor on the adjoining 2.7 acres, a 1907 seven-bedroom that was also freshly renovated, sold for $3.4 million.
The dramatic hillside location has sweeping views of New York City in front and the 400-acre county-owned Eagle Rock reservation, a nature preserve, in back.
The identity of the owner of the 6-acre property, a mystery until recently, appears to be Melih Abdulhayoglu, a Montclair resident. . Abdulhayoglu asked that Stanton Realtors maintain his confidentiality when he purchased the property, but his name and address appear on one of the building proposal documents filed with the town.
Abdulhayoglu is the founder of Comodo, a cybersecurity company based in Clifton; last year, Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.6 billion.
Residents had speculated that the property owner might be Justin Bieber, who often stays at the Montclair home of Carl Lentz, the pastor of the evangelical Hillsong church, which has services on Sundays in downtown Montclair.
Regardless of the owner, some neighbors are concerned about how the enormous home will fit in the sedate, hilly estate section of Montclair and how it would affect those hiking and enjoying the views from the nature reserve.
The applicant, listed as 14 Undercliff LLC, is asking for a zoning variance that would allow him to build the back of the house to within 25 feet of the reservation; current regulations limit the setback to 141 feet.
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He is also asking for a variance that would allow 11 above-ground parking spaces where only four are permitted. An additional 11 parking spaces are in an underground garage.
“It’s a monstrosity,” said Gail Shepard, a real estate broker and longtime area resident. She expressed concern about the loss of trees and possible flooding affecting downhill neighbors in the hilly area, as well as the proximity to the reservation.
The new owner will likely face a property tax bill well into the six figures. The smaller homes that were demolished had a combined bill of approximately $120,000.
At a recent hearing on the application by the Montclair Historic Preservation Committee, consultant Thomas Connolly said the proposed Lloyd Estate “appears to be out of scale and out of character with the other resources in the area designated by the Master Plan as worthy of preservation.”
The committee was in the awkward position of recommending the preservation of the two homes only after they had been knocked down. Though a demolition permit was issued by town officials, the homes were razed before scheduled meetings before historic preservation and zoning officials.
In response to public outrage over the demolitions, the first of which was done after dark, the Montclair Council issued a 30-day moratorium on residential knockdowns in February as they scrambled to draft a new law which would prevent the destruction of historic structures. That moratorium expired in March, but was extended until April 15.
In September, Abdulhayoglu also purchased a five-bedroom Tudor at 11 Undercliff Road, across the street from the proposed megamansion; the trees on the property are in a direct line with the skyline views of the Lloyd Estate.