LONG BRANCH: The city has reached a redevelopment agreement with the owners of the Broadway Arts Center zone; a crucial step in the revitalization of the area.
The council unanimously voted to approve the agreement with Long Branch Partners, LLC (Diversified Realty Advisors) during its Dec. 11 meeting with some hesitation from two council members. Councilman John Pallone and Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli said they have some concerns.
"I'm not sure Long Branch Partners has provided the necessary backup financial documentation that supports their capability to develop the project," Celli said.
She said the developer also appealed their taxes from 2014-2016 and allowed their properties to go to tax sale and she did not think that was a "good faith move."
"I'm always for the growth of the city, but just like a child's growth, every step of the way should be monitored and I intend to watch the growth carefully," Celli said.
Pallone echoed many of Celli's points.
"They still have not provided the city with any evidence that they have the financial capacity to construct this project," Pallone said. "It's important to remember that we've been down this road before...back in 2006 the city entered into an agreement with a different developer who didn't have the financial capability to build their project and eventually defaulted on their loans."
Diversified Realty Advisors Managing Partner Nicholas Minoia presented the plans to the Long Branch Council in November and said the overall plan includes 590 market rate rental units, 99,500 square feet of commercial space, 1,255 parking spaces in 2 parking decks and the construction of a boulevard. The commercial space will be located on the first floor of the buildings with four floors of residential units located above them.
The project will be built in four phases with the first phase located in the northeast quadrant of the zone and will include the construction of the boulevard, 28,000 square feet of retail and 166 residential units.
As part of the redevelopment agreement, the developer has a financial agreement with the city for a $5 million redevelopment area bond (RAB) for the construction of the boulevard.
Long Branch Attorney James Aaron said the city still holds mortgages on several properties in the BAC and that as part of the redevelopment agreement, Long Branch Partners will acquire this remaining land for $1.2 million by Dec. 21.
Pallone said that if this amount is not paid on time that the redevelopment agreement adopted on Monday night should be revoked.
Phase 2 will include 20,100 square feet of retail with 173 residential units in the southeast quadrant of the zone.
The third phase will be located in the northwest portion of the zone and includes 28,500 square feet of retail, 108 residential units and the construction of the first of two multi-level parking decks with 534 parking spaces. A building containing 30 units of affordable housing will also be built off site as part of the third phase. The location will "be determined at a later date," according to Minoia.
The fourth and final phase will consist of 22,500 square feet of retail, 143 residential units and the second multi-level parking deck with 590 parking spaces. The two parking decks will also require RABs from the city, but that amount was not discussed on Tuesday night.
The developer must now seek site plan approval from the Long Branch Planning Board and obtain any other necessary approvals before moving forward with their project.