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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 . Collingswood was a guarantor on the project loan and as the project stagnated, the borough bought 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.”

Check back with Collingswood Patch later today to catch up on other town news from the borough commissioners’ meeting. In the meantime, vote in our poll below.

john q public May 08, 2012 at 11:47 AM
If mayor McCheesey had stayed out of the real estate market IN THE FIRST PLACE we would not be in this fix. If mayor McCheesey (et al) had ensured that the Collingswood construction code inspectors (to include Fire Dept) had done their jobs and not looked away; then the roofs would not leak, porches would be secure, electric would be done to "code" and the sewers wouldn't back up - THAT would made units available AND would not scare potential buyers (like me) away IN THE FIRST PLACE !!!!!
E.T.T. May 08, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Thank you for the update on the Lumberyard. I believe this project is and will be a great asset to our wonderful town!! The Wall Street Journal highlighted and applauded our town and, specifically, The Lumberyard in last Wednesday's newspaper, citing the trend of suburbanites trading in their backyards for train tracks in this era of constant road conjestion and ever-rising gas prices. I look forward to the successful completion of this beautiful development and welcome all new residents who will give our town the postive revenues that it needs and deserves. This is such a positive asset to our town and we will all benefit from higher property values due to its successful completion.
collingswood resident May 08, 2012 at 01:46 PM
IFs and ANDs...we'd all be rich. Its time to stop dwelling on what should have been done or what should not have been done. Time to stop living in the past and focus on the future. What is scaring people away is negative comments and negative press. Lets focus on the present and the future and leave the past behind. Constant dwellilng on it is not helping anything but certainly is harmful. Yes mistakes were made, we understand that, we get it, we have heard it and read it 1000 times and it doesn't change the past. You can't do that. What you can do is change the future...so lets put that energy to good use!
Collingswoodnative May 08, 2012 at 03:55 PM
"Constanza Builders is no longer the LumberYard developer" It's about time. I'm retired from the construction business now but retired about the time the sticks began going up on the first phase. It was like watch Moe, Larry and Curly try to make something. I totally agree with Collingswood resident that stop complaining about the past. Election is next year but the problem with the Lumber Yard project is here and now. Stop complaining how we got into this swamp. Right here and now all I'm concerned about is getting out. Next May pull the lever for the candidates of your choice. The three we have now ran UNOPPOSED last time.
Will McGowan May 09, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I would like to put the past aside as well and focus on a new beginning. I also hope some of the mistakes of the past are learned. The big complaint on the street is PRICE. Nobody with any smarts is going to pay $270 for a 2BR / 2Bth unit with HOA fees when they can get a whole house in town. This has been a huge point from the get go. Lets market to the right audience...empty nesters, single proffs, same sex couples without children; the units are not that big. I'd like to see a well staged unit. I would think taking the eyesore lot and making it into 3 story townhouses with garages would be a better idea than more retail. I always thought townhomes (less units) would have been better that smaller condos. Lets go for the positive and get some good mojo in there! If you are unhappy with the direction of those in city hall then do what I am going to do...vote them out when a viable candidate with 21st century thinking (liquor liscenses??) come along!
collingswood resident May 10, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Woo Hoo...so happy to see a positive attitude coming out. Enough of the old and in with the new! As someone who has first hand knowledge of the selling situation, let me tell you that price is not the problem on hand. There have been 5 bids recently placed on the 2 bedroom 2 bath units well above the $270k quoted and they had to be turned down because until the financing was approved s there was no money to complete the unit. The other problem is that while the buyers are willing to pay the price, mortgages were hard to get as the development is not FHA approved because the percentage of needed units sold to qualify has not been met. Only people paying cash or conventional loans can purchase. Just as an additional FYI, there are people with teenage children in the building, young couple with baby and expecting couples residing in the Lumberyard as well. This type of living is appealing to all types of families. The units are not small by any means. The 2 bedroom/2 bath units are approximately 1600 sq feet and have a 25 x 25 outdoor deck, townhomes are about 1750 sq ft. Now that there is a new builder and the money for the finishing of the units is available, we should see progress again. Glass half full..........glass half full!
john q public May 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Ignoring all the things that the MAYOR & ALL Collingswood officials did wrong is like denying a piece of history. If you do not remind & teach others of the facts then they will be repeated in the future. These complaints are not new, its that lock-step voters choose to tow the party line & ignore the facts. Real estate slump or not, the absolute SHODDY construction of these units should not have occurred. But construction & fire officials feared for their hundred thousand dollar a year jobs & allowed faulty roofs, porches, electrical systems, fire alarm systems, plumbing and sewer standards to be ignored. The repairs required to correct all this issues is STILL ongoing. So we should turn a blind eye? The same people are in charge, so are the same mistakes going to happen?
Joseph Forrest May 13, 2012 at 03:22 PM
If you're in the building/real estate industry, then you know that Constanza builders is one of the worst builders in the region. Every project they touch goes to hell, and is shoddy. Furthermore- one of my best friends was a project manager during phase I. I was told each week about the shoddy construction and poor oversight. Lastly - Ingerman is a step above Constanza. Ingerman primarily builds LOW INCOME housing. Their style of construction is simple: build crap for pennies and make it look like a million bucks. The current administration in city hall needs to be replaced. Collingswood isn't like Cherry Hill or Camden, where the politics is difficult to change. Collingswood is a small borough where change could come swiftly if residents got serious.
Will McGowan May 14, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Then it is imperative that the town council STAY ON TOP ov ever nail they hammer. I have been disheartned over the direction of the town since I went to a meeting last year and someone suggested liquor licenses to the mayor in limited quantity to open a gastro-pub or higher end facility like Haddon Twp. This way the young folks could start establishing roots and BUYING homes. It seemed so logical to me and the mayor's resposnse was " I don't think that's a good idea...". No suggestion for vote, concession, etc. Done. From that day I felt like it was a bit of a disctarorship and I'm, not sure why. I would like to see a change at the top next elections.
Patrick Snoke May 27, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I couldn't have said it better myself. I've been involved with a couple projects where Ingerman was either the master tenant on a property or a partner with my client and their facilities are disgraceful. As I read the article in the Retrospect, I wondered if anyone from the borough bothered to go to any of Ingerman's facilities. I hope the debt is paid off before we have to pay to have them torn down.

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