Demolition of the former Wheatena and Quinn & Boden buildings on Elizabeth Avenue is expected to begin in the next week or two and should last nearly three months.
Henry Szwed, chief operating officer and project manager for the Linden-based developer, Capodagli Property Company/Meridia, LLC, confirmed the timeline by email last week.
Capodagli/Meridia has built the 108-unit Meridia Water’s Edge on Main Street near City Hall Plaza and the 88-unit Meridia Grand on East Grand Avenue, and is in the process of constructing the 115-unit Meridia Lafayette Village on Main Street near Monroe.
The long-dormant Wheatena property will make way for the largest development project to date: The Brownstones, a four-building, 487-unit rental complex across roughly 6.5 acres.
The Redevelopment Agency at its June 3 meeting approved a second amendment (Resolution 18-15) to the redevelopment agreement with Meridia Brownstones, spelling out in writing some changes to figures in the financial agreement, namely the capital costs, projected at $25.3 million, which, amortized over 30 years would yield an annual cost deduction of $843,333.
Capodagli had requested a reduction in development fees due to the increased extraordinary costs associated with demolition, asbestos abatement and environmental remediation. The agency agreed that any reduction in development fees would be a maximum of 50 percent of the previously agreed upon $1,000 per unit fee.
Redevelopment Director Leonard Bier explained to commissioners that the agency now has the changes clearly in writing, so when the developer recaptures costs it will be done so on a “straight line, ” which is important because relief on the redevelopment fee is front-loaded. The reduced fee would be subject to the redeveloper certifying to the actual extraordinary costs, so if they are not as much as anticipated, the developer would pay the full amount.
Capodagli did not seek state brownfields development funding for remediation because it potentially could have delayed the project. If costs are not as extraordinary as anticipated, Bier said, payment could be modified.
The various properties along Elizabeth Avenue currently are assessed at $2.5 million and pay property taxes of approximately $151,175. Under the PILOT, the project would pay an average of about $1 million annually over 30 years.
Construction is expected to begin by about May 2016 and come in four phases, last five years, and culminate in April 2021.