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Edison Redevelopment Plan Pulled from Nov. 22 Agenda

Plan will be considered by township council on Dec. 6

The proposal to redevelop the 20-acre Thomas Edison lot on Main Street in West Orange will be delayed another two weeks after the administration pulled the project from the

Phase I of the plan will now be considered by the township council on Dec. 6. The following items are on the agenda:

  • Resolution approving the updated application for Long Term Tax Exemption for Phase 1 Project
  • First reading of an ordinance approving updated financial agreement for Phase 1 Project
  • Introduction of a bond ordinance not to exceed $6,300,000 authorizing Phase 1 Infrastructure Bonds

Mayor Robert Parisi told Patch additional information was posted on the township website this week so the council and the public could be better informed.

"We don't want anyone to think we're rushing," he said. Parisi also wanted to give the council more time to look over the plan's details.

Last week, the only information posted on the website was a Since then, the information has been updated to include a market study dated October 2011 and a more extensive outline of Phase I of the project. (Both documents are attached to this article)

According to the Rental Market Study prepared by the land's developer, Prism Capital Partners, LLC, Phase I of the project will erect 333 rental units in the Edison Laboratory Building. Called the "Edison Lofts," the apartments will have ceiling heights from 14 to 16 feet high, a 24-hour doorman, a washer/dryer in each unit and windows spanning 10 feet among other amenities.

The area will include a game room, a hot tub, sauna and steam room, a 16,000 square foot gym, an indoor pool and a parking garag. There will also be a Jitney service to both the Orange and South Orange New Jersey Transit Midtown Direct train stations.

Rent for the units will range from $1,283 a month for a studio to $2,999 for a three-bedroom.

"Why would we not do this," Parisi said. "I think there should be a level of excitement." He said the project would collectively be a "betterment for the community."

The proposal also calls for 18,500 square feet of retail space and a parking structure with 635 parking spaces. Should the council approve the resolution and the two ordinances on first reading and second reading by the end of December, the administration will present the proposal to the planning board in February of next year.

The land surrounding The Thomas Edison National Historic Park on Main Street has been an eyesore to residents for years. Plans to develop the property have been a frequent point of contention for both residents and township officials.

In a , residents expressed concerns about the real estate market, taxes, school funding and the effect of a residential unit on Main Street. The plan has since been revised to replace for-sale units for "high-end" rental apartments.

Parisi defended the change and said the rental market is currently stronger than the for-sale market.

"We believe we're ready to take the next step and put years of talk behind us," he said.

wohopeful November 18, 2011 at 01:51 AM
I'm extremely disappointed that Mayor Rob Parisi is even allowing this to be considered. The township homeowners have jsut been saddled with higher taxes from the re-val and now Mayor Parisi is prepared to give away all sorts of tax discounts and concessions to a millionaire developer and nothing to the residents who live here and work so hard to maintain what little we have. Mayor Parisi must not be allowed to take advantage of the taxpayers and allow these millionaires to get richer at our expense.
Cynthia Cumming November 18, 2011 at 03:30 AM
westorangevoice...you are not wohopeful. Post your opinions under your own screen name.
Tom G. November 18, 2011 at 03:30 PM
This project is absurd. Who is going to pay $3k in rent to live in WO?? Almost 1300 for a studio?? You can live in Jersey City or even Hoboken for those prices and be right next to the city.
jamie November 18, 2011 at 06:36 PM
I have to agree with Mac. Where was the logic when this idea was thought up? Why would anyone young ( I'm assuming that's their target buyer) want to live in suburbs let alone West Orange for that much? What would the attraction to WO be for someone in their late 20's? Absolutely nothing I'll tell you lol. This seems like an amazing idea for..Hoboken or Jersey City where you can just hop on the Path and head out to NYC or even just hangout in Hobken and go out. This will be the biggest flop ever if it goes through and the biggest waste of money ever. Why not just make it into an upscale mall? Something like GSP or Short hills.
Glenn R November 18, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Better propaganda please. (a) As you well know, the reval was revenue-neutral. Did your taxes go up? Too bad -- that just means someone else, whose taxes went down, was subsidizing you before. You're welcome. (b) By your endless rants against Parisi/McKeon/Codey you've made it obvious you're a devoted partisan of the party that *supports* special tax breaks for millionaires. So spare us the phony populism.
Alf November 18, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Where was the logic when this idea was thought up? I ask myself the same thing every time I think about this ridiculous idea. What are our elected leaders thinking? or are they thinking at all? This entire idea should be scrapped (like the scrap yard these rentals will overlook) Let's go back to the drawing board!!
Jim November 18, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Ah come on WO is the SOHO!!!
Joe Krakoviak November 19, 2011 at 06:46 PM
If you'd like to view the discussion of the Edison redevelopment project at the November 1 council meeting, the link to the excerpt of the meeting video is http://bit.ly/um39rq. It's about 75 megabytes and 25 minutes long. The town at the moment is posting some project information on its website at http://bit.ly/sKkuL8.
Michelle Cadeau November 20, 2011 at 02:34 AM
I think this is something that has to be done. Main Street is an eyesore and the real estate down there is suffering. get the plan working, give us some place to shop and stop for a coffee in WO, upgrade Main Street and the areas around, get the building beautified. I don't think the developer would do this if they had not done research and made sure this would work here. I think this is a great opportunity for the town and more so, I think it HAS to be done.
Cynthia Cumming November 20, 2011 at 03:53 AM
I want to see what the town presents before passing judgment.
Gary Englert November 20, 2011 at 04:41 AM
Absent your presenting credentials as a real estate developer, you're entitled to your opinion but, it matters little as it's not your money on the line. The people involved aren't in it to lose money and, as this is their primary business, let's give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're doing and wait to pass judgment until the complete proposal. In the final analysis, the Township's (bonding) contribution here will only cover costs associated with roadways, sanitary and storm sewers it provides and maintains in every other neighborhood.
Gary Englert November 20, 2011 at 04:44 AM
@ Jamie: See my comments (above) to Mac. Clearly, you aren't a developer, or a trraffic engineer either, as common sense dictates that the site couldn't possibly handle the volume of traffic or parking necessary to sustain a mall.
Gary Englert November 20, 2011 at 04:47 AM
@ Alf: Redevelopment of this site has been discussed since the Edison Company shut down operations, now more than 60 years ago. What we have now is an owner with the financial wherewithall to bring a plan they believe in (and that the Township has largely approved) to fruition. As I understand it, the risk to the Township is minimal, at worst.
wohopeful November 20, 2011 at 01:35 PM
This is a huge debacle and will result in the hard working taxpayers being saddled with long term bond debt and a millionaire developer walking away from yet another failed project because they are not able to sell/rent any substantial number of their units. If it was such a profitable deal with such overwhelming potential then why hasn't the millionaire developer alrady started the project? In the meantime our puppet Mayor Parisi is prepared to offer all sorts of tax reducations and rebates to a millionaire developer and nothing to the good residents of West Orange which he is supposed to be representing. Instead he appears to be standing on the wrong side of the aisle on this. I'm sure the residents of almost any neighborhood can argue that they have things that "HAS" to be done. I'd like the October 29th storm debris removed from my street as it is causing a hazard for myself and my neighbors . This is the same debris that our puppet Mayor told us to put in the sreet and it would be removed. Well it is almost a month later and I don't see the removal happening anytime soon. It will certainly be interesting to see the plow trucks push it around the streets once the first snow falls. This redevelopment is just a bad idea and must be stopped. It offers no benefits to the township whatsoever and we have much higher priority items which need to get done. Fix the fence that hides the site from view and we are done.
Cynthia Cumming November 20, 2011 at 03:40 PM
why are you continuing to post under someone else's name? You changed your name to westorangevoice after stealing that from someone else. As for the storm debris we all have it on our streets... of course the township could hire out to get the job done faster. Of course that might cost you more in property taxes.
Bob Brown November 22, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Prisim's constantly changing proposals are indicative of the death spiral this poorly timed plan has been following since day one. Now, despite previous promises that West Orange would have no financial exposure, a multimillion dollar township bond offering to support Prisim is being proposed. The first rule of holes is "when you are in a hole, stop digging." It is time for the Town Council to abandon it's edifice complex and stop making this hole deeper.
Tom G. November 22, 2011 at 05:09 PM
My question is, what is the developer's "plan B" if they build these units and can't rent them all? That is what the town needs to be asking. I don't care how much research may or may not have been done. The market is constantly changing and there is no guarantee the project will be a success. Several years ago in Jersey City, Trump had plans to build 2 residential towers. They built the first one and then realized nobody was buying the units, so they scrapped the second tower. I'm sure they did their "research" too...
Gary Englert November 22, 2011 at 05:10 PM
@ Bob Brown: Thus far, neither the Township (nor its resident-taxpayers) are "in a hole" for much of anything: a developer has purchased the property, done some initial demolition and site remediation, and has been paying higher taxes on the property than when it was occupied. The project stalled with the collapse of financial markets as did many others. The "constantly changing proposals" you allude to are a fallacy, as the project remains substantially the same (mixed commerical and residential) with the residential portion now projected as rentals, due to market conditions. As I understand it, the bonding to be considered would only finance infrastructure (roadways, sanitary and storm sewers) that the Township owns and maintains throughout the community. Prism is willing to make an enormous investment in Main Street and it would be foolish to disuade them from doing so.
wohopeful November 22, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Plan B will be to declare bankruptcy and leave the hard working taxpayers of West Orange with millions of dollars in long term bond debt. These millionaire developers have had years to complete the project and the only thing they have done so far is create Kabul in Downtown WO. They have millions of dollars and can hold out longer than the hard working taxpayers of West Orange and will do so until we are forced by our inept Mayor and Council members to roll over and hand over our cash and liong term discounts in property taxes to them while the Mayor raises our property taxes to pay for it all. You are so right Bob, this plan sticks and if it is such a great idea then why haven't Parisi, Codey, and McKeon been the first ones to sign a lease?
Gary Englert November 22, 2011 at 06:31 PM
@ wohopeful: The depth of your ignorance of most everything is difficult to fathom but, explains why you hide your totally nonsensical commentary behind a screen name.
Gary Englert November 22, 2011 at 06:37 PM
@ Mac: On some levels, your question is akin to demanding that your neighbor tell you what his/her "plan B" might be, if they lose their job and can't pay their mortgage. Prism is the owner of a property they are seeking to develop, with support of the Township, and with little more assistance than has ever been provided to any other developer...and there have been hundreds of them throught our history. Various and sundry reasons have contributed to the Edison site not being redeveloped for decades. Allowing it to lie fallow and do nothing is not an option.
Tom G. November 22, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Gary, you are obviously very much in support of this project. In every one of your posts you have criticized everyone who thinks otherwise, yet you have not provided 1 reason why 300+ rental units is good for this town. I understand that location has been an eyesore for decades and sometime certainly needs to be done, but rental units sound like the worst possible option.
Gary Englert November 22, 2011 at 08:31 PM
@ Mac: What I have is an open mind and a willingness to wait until the complete proposal is presented before asking questions likely to be answered and prematurely drawing any conclusions. Philosphically, yes, I'm in support of the project because I'm well acquainted with both the site's history and what it is hoped will be accomplished. Why do you feel rental units are detrimental? This is not low-income housing that's being discussed here. The developer clearly has an interest in it being successful and current market conditions are behind this (relatively) modest change in the plan. They apparently can complete the financing package necesary if it becomes a rental project.
wohopeful November 22, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Within a year the site will be rife with crime, drugs and all the surrounding WO slums have to offer.

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