The top 10 taxpayers in Rahway make up about a fifth of the city’s total assessed value. As part of an $11.65-million bond sale in the spring, the city put together a slew of documents on the city’s debt and tax assessments for ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.
Details of the bond sale, as they relate to redevelopment, will be included in an upcoming post. For now, here are the top 10 property taxpayers in the city (here it is an Excel file, maybe easier to read), followed by the total assessed value of their property (or properties):
Merck & Co., Inc. — $249,669,700Carriage City Properties, LLC — $27,128,400Park Terrace at Rahway, LLC — $6,684,500Giacobbe Investments Corp. — $5,762,400Alard Realty Enterprises — $5,477,900Renaissance at Rahway, LLC — $5,362,800Woodbridge Plaza, LLC — $4,329,500Rahway Industrial Site — $4,296,900Ninette Group — $3,659,600New Jersey Bell — $3,576,279TOTAL — $315,947,979
In some cases, like Merck and Giacobbe Investments Corp., the total figure includes multiple parcels, while for others, it’s just one property, like Renaissance, Park Terrace and Woodbridge Plaza.
“The city’s tax base has experienced, what we consider, limited, but stable, growth; it increased by just 2.1 percent since fiscal 2007 to $1.55 billion in fiscal 2010,” according to the S&P report. It considered the city’s per-capita market value of $134,775 “extremely strong.” Officials expect a tax base reduction for the subsequent year, according to the report. While the tax base is diverse with the 10 leading taxpayers accounting for 21.2 percent of assessed valuation (AV), Merck alone accounted for 17 percent of AV in fiscal 2010. Total assessed valuation is $1,486,291,000 in 2011, down 3.8 percent from $1,545,974,600 in 2010, according to the report.
Primarily due to a tax appeal by Merck (the first in more than 20 years) and to a lesser extent the economic downturn, the tax base will likely decline by 4 percent to $1.49 billion in fiscal 2011, according to the report. The city has settled the tax appeal and will repay about $1.6 million over the next three years.
There are a few more interesting (at least to me) statistics within the documents, as well as details of the bond sale, that I’ll post soon.
ABC 7 News‘ Neighborhood Eats paid a visit to Rahway recently, checking out Patria Restaurant and Mixology Lounge on West Main Street. A 2:41 report on the new eatery aired Friday, featuring a tilapia dish.
Joanne Wakefield, office manager for Giacobbe & Sons, which owns multiple properties downtown, told the Redevelopment Agency they were aiming to rent two separate storefronts on East Cherry Street: one an organic hair salon aimed at seniors at 75 E. Cherry St. (The Mall), and another a Mexican restaurant and bakery at 69 E. Cherry St.
The hair salon would offer direct service to seniors, such as those living in senior housing in the area, like Golden Age Towers, said Wakefield. But they could not get approval from the city so they appealed for help from the Redevelopment Agency. She noted that of the 81 storefronts along Main Street, from East Milton Avenue to Monroe Street, and East Cherry Street, 34 are vacant (about 42 percent).
City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said the city construction official had not received any application from a Mexican restaurant, which is a permitted use on East Cherry Street. He said he walks to work most days past vacant storefronts, though some new ones are coming because they’re able to carry capital. There are an inordinate number of vacant stores, he said, adding that he’s always felt it’s better to have a store occupied than not. Then there are deeper issues about what types of stores are wanted and the direction of downtown.
A city ordinance prohibits siting a salon, or any personal services business, within 1,000 feet of another, said Pelissier. In the ’60s and ’70s, downtown had more wig shops than anything, according to Mayor James Kennedy. There is a tendency to take five or six that are there and deplete business, he said, adding that an overload like that can take away business.
As a courtesy, Pelissier said he would raise the issue with the Redevelopment Agency, which potentially could provide relief as a redevelopment project. Since a salon already exists across the street from The Mall (Max Hair Care II, 84 E. Cherry St.), he told Wakefield that an application would have to be presented to the five-member Redevelopment Agency. There was a salon proposed at an Irving Street site two years ago that was rejected by the Redevelopment Agency. In case law on appeals, Pelissier said decisions have gone both ways with respect to a 1,000-feet law.
In a brief follow-up telephone interview today, Wakefield said the potential tenant passed on pursuing the salon after learning she would have to go through the Zoning Board or Redevelopment Agency. She said the tenant who had interest in the Mexican restaurant and bakery hasn’t been heard from in some time. Of the 16 spaces available in The Mall, she said six are currently vacant and another two will be leaving.
Raffio Giacobbe of Giacobbe & Sons told the Revelopment Agency that he considered moving his office to the front of the the 75 E. Cherry St. property so it looks more active, given that downtown and East Cherry Street don’t look good.