A Wedding, a Scavenger Hunt and More LumberYard at Commissioners Meeting
In addition to a discussion of the LumberYard, the borough commissioners meeting had a wedding and an elementary school student who needed the mayor's signature for a scavenger hunt item.
The usual running conversation about the LumberYard project was really diverted only twice at the borough commissioners meeting Monday night: once to discuss the façade collapse of the old bank on Haddon Avenue, and once more to table the resolution regarding the use of outdoor fire pits.
In addition, Mayor James Maley was called upon to officiate the wedding of Jason and Robin Klawitter, whose daughter Isabella stole the show with her spring dress (and ring pop accessory).
He also lent his signature to Mark Newbie School fourth-grader Lillian Medina, who was tasked to get it as part of a scavenger hunt.
The LumberYard lurches forward
Maley confirmed that the borough completed its bank loan for the purchase of 13 remaining condominium units, the sale of which will be overseen by Main Street Realty.
If the LumberYard condo association approves amendments to the redevelopment plans to allow for the creation of apartments on the property, Maley said that the borough will apply for a 30-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) grant. Once that deal is finalized, the Ingerman Group will be absolved of tax payments on the units for the next 30 years.
Under terms of the deal, Ingerman will also complete the fit-out of 10 of the units the borough purchased in its $4.5 million deal with Susquehanna Bank. The borough is uninvolved in the new constructions, Maley said.
“Ingerman is buying them from the banks and they’re going to build it.”
The $8.5 million the borough invested in acquiring the land redeveloped in the project will not be recouped by the sales of the units, Maley said. He also confirmed that Costanza Builders, the previous developer of the property, never owed the borough any money in exiting the project.
“The deal has always been structured from the beginning that we were putting our acquisition of the land into the project,” Maley said.
Furthermore, Maley said, he believes the borough has “no further obligation” to Costanza, and said he personally has not spoken with the former head of the LumberYard, LLC.
“I have only had contact with his attorney for many months,” he said.
More ratables in a 2-percent cap world
“If [the project] had gone the way we expected it to go, at the end of the day, we would have been able to recoup all of our money,” Maley said.
“Because it was stopped midway, we haven’t been able to do that. As the project completed and we got to certain phases of it, we would [have been] repaid based on 100 percent sales,” he said.
Maley insisted that although Collingswood has invested a considerable amount of money in the project, the borough will earn money through the establishment of new ratables in the district. Through the execution of the project, he said, more housing has been built in the borough than in the last 53 years combined.
“If we’re going to live in a world with a 2-percent cap on our budget, then the only way we’re ever going to be able to sustain services is by generating new ratables,” he said.
“We’ve weathered this really well,” Maley said. “Look at other places where towns are trying to get redevelopment projects going, and for the most part, you’re going to find empty lots.”
In other news
- Former borough administrator Bradford Stokes was named an alternate member of the Collingswood Zoning Board.
- Borough engineers have been involved in helping remove all remaining marble from the front of the former TD Bank building on Haddon Avenue. A safety net will be installed to keep any cement from falling, Maley said; once that’s done, sidewalk will be reopened.
- The fire pit ordinance was tabled for the time being, as Maley said some residents complained to him that, as written, it would be difficult to comply with some of the property dimensions described in the ordinance. Maley still advocated for the necessity of having such an ordinance in place, relating an anecdote about some "folks who were using a wheelbarrow as their firepit and moving it everywhere."
"We’re looking to do some regulation that lets people enjoy it and makes it safer," he said.