LumberYard Developer Booted as Project Gets Back on Track
Collingswood severs ties with LumberYard Redevelopment LLC—but without absolving the builder for problems at the complex.
Constanza Builders is no longer the LumberYard developer, but isn’t off the hook for any existing problems at the Collingswood complex.
Control of the controversial and stalled LumberYard project soon will be in the hands of Ingerman, a Cherry Hill-based developer. Collingswood commissioners approved an agreement Monday night to remove LumberYard Redevelopment, LLC from the project.
The deal to switch developers had been in the works for awhile but had been stalled by a disagreement over whether the old developer should be absolved of problems at the condominium complex, Mayor James Maley said. Residents have complained of leaks, faulty electrical equipment and sewer problems, among other concerns.
The borough has no plans to clear LumberYard Redevelopment, LLC from responsibility for the existing problems any time soon, if ever.
“I’ve have got no intentions of doing any release right now,” Maley said in response to a resident’s question about the possibility of a future agreement. “The borough did not release them from anything that they’ve done.”
As for the project itself, the agreement between Collingswood and LumberYard Redevelopment LLC is a “domino,” as Maley described it. After the agreement is inked this week, the developer will sign over the LumberYard project to financers, who will immediately turn it over to Ingerman to finish the project.
Maley said the switch to Ingerman will get the LumberYard back on track for completion. The plan remains the same as it did before, including constructing building four at the vacant site at Haddon Avenue and Powell Lane.
There is no updated time line for completion. Ingerman will have to go through approval processes for the final site plan.
As for funding the project, Ingerman will work out its own financing.
“We’re not involved—we’re done,” Maley said.
“We’ve had enough,” Commissioner Mike Hall chimed in.
The financial involvement of the borough in the LumberYard caused significant problems for the town when Moody’s used the move to justify trashing Collingswood’s bond rating. Collingswood was a guarantor on the project loan and as the project stagnated, the borough bought 13 units in the complex. The plan was, and is, to lease or sell the units to recoup money.
Collingswood sold a one-year, $5.1 million note last week to Susquehanna Bank at a 4.95 percent interest rate. The borough can use the money from any of its units that sell or rent to pay down the note.
“We have one lease ready, but we’ll be really pushing to sell a bunch of these remaining units,” Maley said. “We’ve really been hurt by the time. In the last six months, we could’ve sold at least a couple of the units.”
Speaking of Moody’s, the mayor noted that without the downgrade, Collingswood would have secured a 4.5 percent interest rate on the note.
“So it had an effect on us, but not much of an effect on us,” Maley said.
“Frankly, I’m at a point right now where I really don’t care what Moody’s has to say about us, but we’ll be dealing with that next,” he continued. “Everything in Moody’s report that they said we couldn’t do, we’ve done. The facts that they relied on, we showed that they were wrong. They will eventually undo this rating—they will.”
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