Blue Acres to demolish almost 20 properties

Almost 20 Rahway properties have been acquired in the last six months through the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)’s Blue Acres program, with demolition forthcoming as part of local flood-mitigation efforts.

The state DEP has purchased 18 properties in the last six months or so, including nine on New Church Street, many of which have been identified for demolition by spray-painted numbers on the facade. Another four properties on Central Avenue were acquired, along with two on Hamilton Street, and one each on Main Street, Essex Street and Baumann Court. UPDATED, 3/14/17: Since the original post, two more properties appeared on property transactions (489 Central Ave. and 616 Elm Ave.) bringing the total acquisitions to 20.

The 18 properties were sold for a total $4.498 million, ranging from $63,937 to $318,069, according to property records. In total, the properties are assessed for $2.261 million and generate property taxes of about $143,355 in the most recent year. The average purchase price was about $272,240, paying taxes of about $8,446 on an assessment of $133,313 (which is about the citywide average).

UPDATED, March 2017: The 20 properties were acquired for a total $5,118 million, an average $255,934. The properties had a recent total assessment of $2,556,900, or an average $127,845, with total property taxes of $161,971.45, or an average of $8,098.57.

The state is in the process of demolition, which is expected to start by December and be completed by February, according to Cynthia Solomon, the city’s director of planning.

church-street-east-sideAbout 30 properties were identified for acquisition under the state’s Blue Acres program. Last year, City Council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DEP to accept applications for properties to be acquired by the state through negotiations with property owners. Most of the 30 properties identified are located near the Robinson’s Branch of the Rahway River.

church-street-west-sideOnce properties are acquired and vacated, the state contracts to demolish the homes and the city will assume maintenance of the properties. The agreement with the state allows properties to “remain in their natural state as open space” but the city can use them for “passive recreational purposes not inconsistent with the purposes of the state acquisition program.”

Buyout funding is provided by the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HGMP); the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program; the Blue Acres fund and the State Land Acquisition (Urban) fund. The DEP will continue to submit buyout applications to the federal government for additional properties on a rolling basis.

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