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Long Branch Oceanfront Developer Continues Push For PILOT

LONG BRANCH: An oceanfront developer is trying for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the second time.

The Long Branch Council unanimously passed a resolution disapproving the tax exemption application of Bluffs Development Urban Renewal, LLC during its Jan. 24 meeting. Bluffs Development's project, called Seastar-Classic Living By The Sea, is a 33 unit-condominium development on the lot which currently contains the closed Jake's Gym. The gym has been closed for about 3 years and a vacant building now sits on the lot located at 290 Ocean Ave.

Bluffs Development Urban Renewal, LLC Attorney Steven Gouin said his client has come back to the city with a revised PILOT application.

"This project needs a PILOT to be competitive, not only with the surrounding towns...but most importantly to be competitive with the project next door," Gouin said. "The FEM real estate project has received a PILOT, 10-year, long-term tax exemption. That is the same PILOT we are looking for from the city council now."

He said his project needs to be placed on "at least even footing" with the FEM South Beach, LLC, project which is a luxury condo development will be located in a large lot at 320 Ocean Ave. along North Bath Avenue.

"Realistically to ask this project to move forward without the same benefit of the long-term exemption that the neighboring project received would be really unfair," Gouin said.

Councilwoman Joy Bastelli has said the project's return on investment (ROI) and internal rate of return (IRR), two things that are weighed heavily when the council is deciding whether or not to grant a PILOT, were factors in the governing body's ultimate decision.

Godin said the agreement would be beneficial for the city for financial reasons, and that it would generate $3 million in revenue over the term of the PILOT.

"The city will receive 95 percent of every PILOT dollar that comes in, whereas under a conventional tax scenario the city would get 40 percent, approximately," Gouin said.

The owner of the property, Jim Fusco said the project will be beneficial for the city and that he hopes that the redevelopment agreement between himself and Long Branch is a sign of mutual respect.

"We need (the city) as our partner to give us the tool we need to complete our collaboration," Fusco said.

Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider said the city will review the Bluffs paperwork again and make a determination in the future.


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