Years of stalled talks and disagreements may soon reach an end point after the township council considers one resolution and two ordinances to redevelop the Thomas Edison property on Main Street.
"We believe we're ready to take the next step and put years of talk behind us," Mayor Robert Parisi said during last week's township council meeting.
The dilapitated land surrounding the Thomas Edison National Historic Park on Main Street has been an eyesore to residents for years. The land's developer, Prism Capital Partners, LLC, has been working with the township to come up with a feasible plan for the area.
Parisi said the administration would submit a bond ordinance, a resolution to approve the application and an ordinance approving the finances for the project later this month for consideration by the council.
He said the council will consider only Phase I of the construction plan that includes more than 300 residential units and 18,500 square feet of retail space in the rundown battery building.
Parisi said the latest plan calls for a rental project, rather than the for-sale units previously presented by Prism in May.
Phase I of the plan proposed in June called for 321 units, including nine studios, 140 one-bedroom units, 145 two-bedroom units and 27 three-bedroom units. Parisi said that the plan now includes more one-bedroom than two-bedroom units to make room for elevator shafts and stairwells. He said the "high-end rental" apartments will remain high-quality with amenities and private parking.
"There's a silver lining … we think rentals as a product are very strong," Parisi said. He said given the economy, people do not want to "tie themselves up" by purchasing property and contended the rental market was stronger than the for-sale market.
The township council will meet on Nov. 22 to discuss the project; the developer is slated to attend. Any approvals by the township council must also be subject to approval by the planning board.
"We're trying to be flexible, we believe redeveloping the site is still important," Parisi said.
Under the newest proposal, the township will still enter a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement, whereby the developer agrees to pay a reduced amount to the township instead of regularly applied real estate taxes.
"There are significant issues that are still outstanding," said Councilman Joe Krakoviak, who sits on the redevelopment sub-committee with Councilman Sal Anderton.
"One of the things a couple years ago that caused a lot of concern in the town was the use of general obligation bonds. There's not nearly as much being talked about his time but there still a general obligation portion of the transaction," he said.
He agreed, though, that it was important for the township to redevelop the property. "It's not very pleasant for us to look at now."
Parisi said the administration would post additional information about the latest proposal on the website. As of Monday, no information had yet been posted.
To read more about the plan proposed by Prism in May,