Special-needs housing plan advances in Fort Lee New Jersey

Special-needs housing plan advances





FORT LEE — Plans to build the borough’s first special-needs housing project took another step forward this week when the council adopted an ordinance authorizing the area to be redeveloped.

About half an acre at the eastern end of Main Street, which runs into River Road and where Prestige Auto Body currently operates, will be converted into a 16-story, 140-unit multifamily high-rise, with units reserved for low- and moderate-income tenants and individuals with special needs.

The Planning Board approved the project in January but the council had to adopt a redevelopment plan for 69 Main St., also known as Redevelopment Area 7, before the project can proceed.

In addition to this week’s plan adoption, the council will hold a public hearing July 18 regarding a proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement with the developer, Fred Daibes.

PILOT programs offer a guarantee of a minimum amount a borough will receive from a developer each year for providing town services, but often it’s less than what the municipality would receive if the property were taxed under normal circumstances. Towns frequently use such tax breaks to entice developers to take on projects offering affordable housing.

Under the proposed PILOT agreement — which updates previous figures regarding the number of affordable- and special-needs housing units at the site — 77 of the 140 units would be rented out at below-market rates. Of the 77 units, 32 would be dedicated to special-needs tenants.

Daibes would pay 6.28 percent of the annual gross revenues on the 77 affordable housing units for either 30 years or the length of the mortgage, whichever was longer, according to the proposed PILOT agreement. He would pay 10 percent of the annual gross revenues from the market-rate units for 30 years.

Mayor Mark Sokolich called the project “very attractive” because it will address housing demands for special-needs adults while helping the borough fulfill its state-mandated obligation to provide affordable housing.

Tallest towers

Down the street from the special-needs project is Redevelopment Area 5, a 16-acre tract that will feature two 47-story luxury residential towers — the county’s tallest structures — on the eastern half and about 175,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a hotel and more residential units on the western half. Rather than provide affordable housing in Redevelopment Area 5, those units have essentially been transferred to Redevelopment Area 7.

The current tenant of 69 Main St., Prestige Auto Body, will receive relocation assistance, with the move planned for this summer, said Alan Marcus, a spokesman for the developer. Daibes is having a roughly $600,000 building constructed for the auto shop along eastbound Route 4, Marcus said.

Part of the relocation effort will be funded by a loan the developer is receiving from the borough through its affordable housing fund, according to this week’s adopted redevelopment plan. Prestige Auto Body has operated on Main Street for nearly 40 years.

Email: tat@northjersey.com


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