Special counsel hired for artist housing deal

The Redevelopment Agency authorized a contract for special counsel to assist in the acquisition and closing of the former Elizabethtown Gas building for planned affordable housing project a the site.

The Redevelopment Agency unanimously approved a resolution (11-15) at its Feb. 4 meeting naming DeCotiis FitzPatrick and Cole as special counsel. The firm was replaced this year as general counsel.

The agency at its Jan. 5 organization meeting awarded its general counsel legal contract for 2015 to Parsippany-based Weiner Lesniak. DeCotiis had been counsel to the Redevelopment Agency since its inception in 1998.

ce176-img_4864Executive Director Leonard Bier explained to commissioners that the acquisition of the Elizabethtown Gas property for artist housing has been delayed because of environmental issues and it did not make sense to hand over the transaction before it’s completed. At the January meeting, he mentioned that DeCotiis’ Frank Regan would handle some lingering legal issues.

Commissioner Tim Nash questioned why there was no dollar amount associated with the resolution. Bier said the agreement was on a per-diem basis for $165 per hour, the amount indicated in the Request For Proposal (RFP) submitted by the firm in December.

The Rahway Residences for the Arts, proposed as a 71-unit complex, has been in the works for the former Elizabethtown Gas building on Central Avenue (Block 167, Lot 1). The agency authorized the purchase in May 2013.

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