Carl Schulz, owner of the Center Circle on Main Street, approached the Redevelopment Agency at its July 1 meeting asking that commissioners postpone memorializing a resolution to designate AST Development as redeveloper of the 3.5-acre property.
At its previous meeting in June, the Redevelopment Agency discussed extending AST’s expired designation through Dec. 31.
The Lavallette-based developer proposed three, five-story buildings of 248 rental apartments in August 2013. A revised plan was presented in December 2014 by Clay Bonny of Heartstone Development calling for one building of about 250 units but neither ever materialized after unexpected environmental cleanup complicated negotiations of the sale. Eventually, the developer’s designation expired as Schulz and AST could not come to terms on a sale of the property. Heartstone and AST partnered on the 116-unit Metro Rahway project at the former site of A&M Industrial Supply on Campbell Street.
Schulz explained to commissioners that he just recently received correspondence from AST President Bob D’Anton regarding his proposal outlining guidelines, environmental requirements and a partnership. There also are two developers that have committed to move forward on 90 percent of what he has proposed, Schulz said, while AST essentially rewrote the contract. He asked the agency for more flexibility and time to work with AST but also to bring in the other two developers, one of which is Heartstone.
Executive Director Leonard Bier recommended that the agency honor the request and postpone a designation for 30 days — but not indefinitely — to satisfy all parties. A resolution is expected to be on the agenda for the agency’s Aug. 5 meeting. He told Schulz that it’s not the intention of the agency to “limit the benefit that accrues to you” from the property.
The Center Circle property has been on the market with an asking price of $5.45 million.
A designation only means that the agency knows what a developer has done and has the resources and experience for a project, Bier added. However, if Schulz were to get a better offer for the property from one developer, that doesn’t mean that developer is designated, he said. The agency will operate in good faith with all parties and then revisit the situation in 30 days, Bier said.
Timing is a critical issue, Schulz said. The busy season for Center Circle runs October to April and he’s trying to work with AST to develop a timeline so environmental remediation is done during the downtime.
Bonny of Heartstone Development asked the agency whether it’s looking at the Center Circle property as a stand-alone project or something akin to what was proposed years ago, including retail as part of a mixed-used project within City Hall Plaza.
Bier said this deal is a stand-alone. Whether or not it will be greater than that is to be determined, he added, emphasizing there is no possibility or contemplation of the adjacent parking lot, SDI building or library building being in this deal.