City Council will vote tonight on a 30-year Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) for Meridia Brownstones (0-21-14) as well as an amended redevelopment plan (O-22-14) and revised redevelopment agreement (O-23-14).
UPDATED: Aug. 11, 10 p.m. — City Council unanimously adopted the three Brownstones-related ordinances by a 6-0 vote, with three members absent. There were no comments or questions from the public or from City Council members.
Henry Szwed of West New York-based Capodagli Property Company presented a revised concept plan to the Redevelopment Agency last week for the former Wheatena site at Elizabeth and West grand avenues. The first concept plan featured about 450 rental units along Elizabeth Avenue and the railroad tracks with surface and underground parking in between the buildings.
Commissioners had concerns that there was too much surface parking and not enough green space and amenities, Szwed said. The only change to the second concept plan was adding green space where parking was initially, with all parking now under the buildings and the number of rental units increasing to 489.
Retail space of about 4,000 square feet will be at the corner of each building as you enter the development’s boulevard and third retail space half way down on Elizabeth Avenue.
The four buildings each will have about about 120 units and be built in four phases, with parking likely built in two phases, Szwed said. Typically their projects consist of about 65 percent two-bedroom units, which would amount to about 318 two-bedrooms, leaving about 171 one-bedrooms. There will be about 542 parking spaces on the building’s footprint and Szwed said they were able to take credit for some spaces along Elizabeth Avenue to reach a required 1.25 space per unit, plus off-site lots across the street.
Under the PILOT, the 489-unit, four-building complex would pay an average of about $1 million annually over 30 years, with about 95 percent of that going to the city and 5 percent to Union County. The combined properties, which have sat unused for years, pay about $150,000 in property taxes annually. It’s unclear how much a fully constructed project would pay in regular property taxes versus a PILOT but there also are environmental cleanup costs of at least $1 million for demolition and asbestos remediation. Other recent projects in Rahway that received PILOTs essentially will pay about half of what property taxes might be expected on comparable buildings.
The developer is likely to go it alone on the environmental remediation rather than pursue a Brownfields Development Area (BDA) designation and potential loans for redevelopment. Such loans, however, would not cover the costs of demolition or asbestos removal, which are estimated to be more than $1 million, according to Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier. Potential delays in getting such applications approved could turn loans into liens, he told commissioners last week, and so the developer believes it’s in his best interest to not apply.